Story Summary

Valley Springs Girl Killed

Calaveras County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating the stabbing death of an 8-year-old girl.

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 9 updates


12-year-old homicide suspect Isaiah Fowler, draped in a jacket covering his face, was led into the Calaveras County courtroom today. His father and brother continued to show support for the preteen, accused of killing his younger sister, 8-year-old Leila.

“The family has been through hell, it’s hard to imagine it could get worse for them. The more I get to know them, the more respect I have for them, for the grace their showing in this unimaginable situation,” says Isaiah’s defense lawyer, Steve Plesser.

Today’s goal was to look ahead, and work to set a trial date.

“Our client is twelve, we want to get to trial as soon as possible,” says Plesser.

Both prosecutors and Fowler’s defense team say they’ll spend the next seven weeks sifting through evidence. Some of that discovery evidence, Isaiah’s attorney’s say, they’ve yet to see.

“We were told two-thousand hours of law enforcement resources was spent on this case. We know that hundreds of those hours were spent by the FBI agents; we have yet to see a single document generated by the FBI,” says Plesser.

And as for what the defense is calling “the true suspect”? Plesser says his investigative team is tracking what prosecutors have missed.

“Law enforcement has generated some suspects We are aware of most of those suspects that they’ve looked at. We have additional suspects that we are looking at,” says Plesser.

Isaiah Fowler is set to be back in court on September 18.

Both sides say they are working hard to make sure this case does go to trial before the end 2013.

Katie Hackett filed this report.


File photo.


It will be mid-September before Isaiah Fowler is in court again.

Fowler, accused of killing his 8-year-old sister, Leila, appeared in Calaveras County Court Wednesday.

Each side says they will continue to sift through evidence until September 18. Fowler’s defense says Leila’s killer is still out there and has yet to be caught.

Fowler pleaded not guilty May 29.

fowler, court, vicki behringer

Artist’s rendering of inside the courtroom by Vicki Behringer.


Isaiah Fowler’s attorneys entered a denial of allegation plea for the 12-year-old accused of murdering his 8-year-old sister, Leila, Wednesday afternoon.

The boy will be back in court in July for trial. His attorneys noted that they have over 1,000 hours of police work to look through.

A denial of allegation plea is equivalent to a not guilty plea, only for minors.

Isaiah remains in custody. His attorneys did not petition to get him out of custody at this time, as his home situation is in question. Isaiah’s family was in the process of moving when the incident took place.

Cecilio Padilla contributed to this report.

Paul Robins talks to FOX40 Legal Analyst Ken Rosenfeld about the Leila Fowler Murder Case. They discuss the charges 12-year-old Isaiah Fowler now faces.


The family of 12-year-old Isaiah Fowler walked into court on Wednesday, as their son faced charges of killing their 8-year-old daughter, Leila.

One thing is certain – the family isn’t walking away from their son. They say he’s innocent.

But on the same day he was charged with murder, Calaveras County homicide detectives confirm that they’re investigating reports of alleged animal mutilations at the hands of the boy.

“‘If he did, this changes the whole equation,” Dr. Mike Duveneck, a clinical psychology professor at Sacramento State, told FOX40.

Duveneck says behavior in some children like bullying or vandalism can lead to worse.

“They often graduate as they get older to sociopathic kind of behavior, where they do high crime, high profile, very vicious kind of crimes,” he said.

Two weeks to the day Leila was stabbed to death in the bedroom of her home, officers arrested her 12-year-old brother for the killing.

Sources close to the case told FOX40 they found Isaiah’s blood and finger prints at the crime scene.

Now, detectives are looking into reports of alleged animal killings.

Duveneck says if the findings turn out to be legitimate, it would solidify the prosecutors’ case against the boy.


Entering the San Andreas courtroom where their son was formally charged with their daughter’s murder, the Fowler family didn’t speak, instead deferring to their attorneys.

“They’re going through extremely difficult times. I can tell you they’re a good family and like any good family, this is extremely problematic for them,” Mark Reichel, the Fowler family attorney, said Wednesday.

In the court, Isaiah Fowler was calm and seemingly unaffected by the proceedings.

“My client is holding up very well under very difficult circumstances,” Reichel said.

Judge John Martin explained the complex nature of juvenile court in simple terms, with Fowler speaking to his attorneys before answering.

Outside court, the Fowler family attorneys told reporters they believe the 12-year-old is innocent and that the investigation by Calaveras County deputies was botched.

“How could a 12-year-old like this commit an offense in such a way that would not lead to an immediate arrest and take 2,000 hours of law enforcement resources and FBI resources before they felt it pointed toward him?” Reichel said.

The attorneys also wanted to let the people of Valley Springs, who so diligently raised funds for Leila’s family, that the money wasn’t going to Isaiah’s defense.

“There’s no misunderstanding. Everything they’ve received on behalf of those who were nice enough to show their support has nothing to do with their legal team,” Reichel said.

Leaving court, the Fowler family was once again silent, expressing their only wishes through attorneys: to be left alone and given peace.


Calaveras County Sheriff’s investigators say they found the blood and fingerprints of 12-year-old Isiah Fowler, who was arrested Saturday in the murder of his 8-year-old sister, Leila.

Sources close to the investigation say the DNA evidence was collected from the crime scene, which was Leila’s bedroom.

Isaiah’s family is mourning the loss of their daughter, and loving and supporting their son accused of murder.

“Everybody knows I love all my kids. I have a lot of them. I love them all. I love them all the same. Always have,” Barney Fowler, Isaiah and Leila’s father, told FOX40.

Isaiah’s older brother, Justin, also vows his support.

“I’m with my brother, 100 percent. We’re just trying to be positive. We all love my sister,” he said.

The Fowlers’ attorney, Mark Reichel, characterized this as a unique case, describing Isaiah as a loving person.

“He’s doing remarkably well, under the circumstances,” Rei told FOX40. “The family’s doing remarkably well, under the circumstances. We stand firmly in front of our client to protect him. We stand with the family who’s united right now.”

Suspect in Leila Fowler’s Murder Cannot be Tried as an AdultCALAVERAS COUNTY-

The Calaveras County District Attorney’s Office has filed a petition to charge Leila Fowler’s 12-year-old brother, Isiah, with second degree murder.

Fowler is set to appear in court late Wednesday morning.

On top of the murder charge, prosecutors seek to add a special allegation of using a deadly and dangerous weapon.

Fowler is accused of stabbing his 8-year-old sister to death in their Valley Springs home.


FOX40 has obtained the 911 call from the day Leila Fowler was killed.

The woman on the phone is Crystal Walters, the fiance of Fowler’s father.

Fowler’s 12-year-old brother was arrested Saturday after weeks of investigation.