Leila Fowler's brother charged with murder: He's 'quiet and reserved'

Leila Fowler's brother charged with murder: He's 'quiet and reserved'
Calaveras County Sheriff's Department Capt. Jim Macedo gives details about the case involving 8-year-old Leila Fowler a day after she was found dead in Valley Springs, Calif. (Elias Funez / Associated Press)

The 12-year-old brother of Leila Fowler was expected to make his first appearance in juvenile court Wednesday after being charged with second-degree murder in his 8-year-old sister's death.

Attorney Mark Reichel said his client also faced a special allegation that he used a dangerous weapon in the April 27 stabbing. The boy is due in court at 11:45 a.m., Reichel said.


Reichel declined to go into detail about the case, saying he had not yet received evidence from prosecutors. But he said the boy and his family were "doing remarkably well under the circumstances."

"He's a shy, quiet and reserved boy," Reichel said.

Calaveras County authorities allege the boy, whose name has not been released because of his age, stabbed Leila to death in their family's Valley Springs home. He told authorities an intruder killed his sister, then ran away.

The slaying shocked the rural community of 7,500, prompting a property-to-property search and extra patrols at area schools as frightened families kept their children close. Sheriff Gary Kuntz said authorities spent more than 2,000 hours on the case, which also involved the FBI.

Authorities said there were no signs of a burglary or robbery. A witness initially said she saw a man running from the home, but later recanted, officials said.

The boy was arrested on a murder charge Saturday at the Valley Springs substation of the Calaveras County Sheriff's Department. Sheriff's officials have remained tight-lipped about the arrest.

News of the arrest brought mixed emotions to the community. Residents were relieved, but saddened that the boy had been accused. Some, however, said they weren't surprised.

"When it first happened, it was a shock — a stranger coming into a home and slaughtering a little girl," Fidel Taylor told The Times. "But the story didn't make sense."

The boy's family has stood by him. On the eve of his arrest, his mother told a Sacramento television station her son was innocent.

"They never even used to fight when they were little," Priscilla Rodriguez told CBS Sacramento. "I would never see him be mean to her."

The boy's father said authorities need to show him evidence before he'll believe that his son is a killer.

"Until they have the proper evidence to show it's my son, we're standing behind him," Barney Fowler told the Associated Press. "If they have the evidence, well, that's another story. We're an honest family."

Sgt. Chris Hewitt said Leila and the boy were two of several children who lived at the Valley Springs home with Fowler and Leila's stepmother. The parents were at a Little League game at the time of the slaying.

The boy called his parents, then 911 after the attack, officials said. The stepmother, Crystal Walters, also called 911.


"My children are at home alone and a man just ran out of our house and my older son was in the bathroom and my daughter started screaming," Walters told the 911 call operator, according to CBS Sacramento.

"Did they see the man?" the call operator asked.

"They did see him, yes. My daughter is freaking out right now," Walters said.