Update at 5:40 p.m.: The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Department has released the statement below with further details on a state appellate court’s decision to overturn the murder conviction of Isiah Fowler in the slaying of his sister 8-year-old sister, Leila Fowler.
“On February 22, 2018, the Third District Court of Appeals reversed the Juvenile Court’s decision regarding the case of the 2013 murder of Leila Fowler and has remanded the case for a new trial. As the Appeals Court decision is not yet final, a new Court date has not yet been set.
In its decision, the Court of Appeals reviewed four interviews of the juvenile suspect in this case conducted in 2013. The Appeals Court agreed with the Juvenile Court’s finding that the first and second interviews were properly admitted into evidence at the trial. However, the Appeals Court disagreed with the Juvenile Court regarding the third and fourth interviews, and found those interviews should have been excluded from the trial primarily due to a perceived conflict of interest on the part of the juvenile’s parent in giving law enforcement permission to conduct the interviews after the juvenile became a person of interest in the murder. Applying current federal standards of review, the Appeals Court stated it could not find the Juvenile Court’s consideration of the interviews at trial to be a harmless error beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, the Appeals Court reversed the Juvenile Court’s decision in the case and remanded the case for a new adjudication hearing (trial).
At the time of the Leila Fowler murder investigation, California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 625.6, which requires that a youth 15 years of age or younger consult with legal counsel prior to custodial interrogation, had not been enacted. This legislation was enacted in 2017.
The Attorney General’s Office represented the People in fighting to uphold the Juvenile Court’s decision in this case and is carefully reviewing the decision of the Appeals Court. The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office stands by its investigation and its commitment to seek justice for Leila Fowler. The District Attorney’s Office joins in that commitment and is prepared for any re-trial of the case.”
Original post at 7:20 a.m.: San Andreas, CA — The murder conviction of a Calaveras teen has been overturned by an appellate court, so he could now face a new trial.
Isiah Fowler was found guilty in 2015 for the murder of his 8-year-old sister, Leila Fowler. It was a case that shook the close knit Valley Springs community. However, a state appellate court found that two of the four interviews law enforcement conducted with him violated his Miranda rights. He made inconsistent statements as well during the interviews. You can read a 58-page appellate court report by clicking here.
Isiah Fowler was 12-years old when his sister was killed, and he is now 17. He will remain in a youth correctional institution in Stockton, where he has been serving a 16 year sentence, until the next legal step is determined.