It's been almost two years since a terrible murder scene played-out in Valley Springs, and 8-year-old Leila Fowler lost her life.
It’s been almost two years since her older brother Isaiah Fowler was charged with that murder and arrested.
He's just 14-years-old. So, much of his 12th year, and all of his 13th, were spent either in custody or, when he's in court, in shackles.
His defense attorneys are confident that will end tomorrow.
"He is not the murderer. He's a 12-year-old boy who, when law enforcement got there, was almost completely clean of any evidence of a crime scene, which is beyond impossible. A 12-year-old can't clean up a crime scene," defense attorney Mark Reichel said.
And this crime scene was particularly gory. Leila was stabbed more than 20 times with a knife that punctured both her heart and lungs.
But it's not just the absence of blood on Isaiah that demonstrates his innocence according to his attorneys. They say it's the presence of the bodily fluids of another person - a man.
It’s DNA found during testing, ordered by the defense this January, on a strand of Leila's own hair, retrieved from under her clothes, from the cleft of her buttocks.
"Now you have scientific evidence that shows sometime, recently, prior to her demise, there was a male adult very close to her - close enough to deposit significant DNA," Reichel said.
There was no evidence of sexual assault on Leila’s body when she was killed.
I asked Reichel what Isaiah's reaction might be Friday if he's released on bail.
"Words probably would fall far short of describing his emotions and what he's thinking," he said.
We contacted the Calaveras County District Attorney’s Office about this story. They told us they would not comment, because it is a case involving a minor.
As of now, the 2nd degree murder trial of Isaiah Fowler is still on the court calendar for mid-May.
If not Isiah, then who?
"Everybody wants an answer. I wish I could give everyone an answer. But we can't give an answer, other than to say it's not the boy you're holding in custody," Reichel said.
For nearly two weeks after the brutal murder of Leila Fowler, the Calaveras County Sheriff lead a manhunt looking for her killer. It would end with arrest of her then 12-year-old brother, the boy who was babysitting Leila at the time of her death. The boy who provided a description of the killer.
Now his defense attorneys are saying the key to their case was not hiding in the rolling hills of Calaveras County, but with a single strand of Leila's hair and the DNA they found on it.
"It's a complete profile of a male, and it doesn't match anybody associated with the Fowler family, or those that had visited recently or been in the neighborhood," Reichel said.
Reichel says the Calaveras County Prosecutor now is running that DNA sample through law enforcement data bases, looking for a match.
The science says there is some possibility that the male it describes is a relative of Leila and Isiah's father, Barney Fowler.
Reichel says there is a killer still out there, and just as it was in days right after Leila was killed, it's the job of law enforcement to find him.
"I know they were beating the bush and you were there when they were doing it,” he told FOX40. “But if in your heart and your mind, you're certain you're not going to find anything, then you're not doing the job right, and you can overlook things."