A convicted arsonist and murderer may be receiving the death sentence for his actions of starting a massive wildfire in Southern California in 2003. He was just convicted of arson and five counts of first-degree murder in August of 2011, and today in court the jury requested that his punishment would be the death sentence. Rickie Lee Fowler, 31, started the fire that burnt 91,000 acres of land and destroyed over 1,000 buildings and homes. The fire burnt for nine days, and five men died as a result of the fires burning in their homes and in an attempt to escape. Heart attacks are what claimed their lives as a result of the large wildfire overcoming their homes.
A law professor at Loyola Law claims that the charges Fowler was held within the counts of a murder would be just like if bank robbers cause the tellers to have a heart attack, it is still considered murder because their actions caused the attack. She states that whether or not the Fowler will officially be sentenced for the death penalty, the professor believes that he will die in prison for what he did. The Southern California fire was in 2003, and it wasn’t until 6 years later that the police were able to connect Fowler to the crime. His name came up because a witness reported that they caught a glimpse of the suspect throwing a burning object into the dry brush on the side off the road.
This phone tip led the investigators straight to Fowler but it took months of interviewing and six more years of investigation before they had enough to actually press charges. At the time the police had adequate evidence to connect him to the crime, Fowler was serving time for a burglary conviction. During his time in prison he also received a conviction of sodomizing another inmate and received three sentences of 25 years in prison. From the prosecution’s perspective they addressed the possible motives behind Fowler setting the fire than swallowed 91,000 acres of land. They believe that it was a response of rage after the home he was staying at kicked him out. They also noted that in 2008, a reporter was able to bagger a confession of the crime out of him and the police were able to prove that he was in fact at the scene of the crime that day.
They also tried to make him appear to be a man who was guilty of rape, robbery and abuse of others throughout his life. The defense in response claims that their client never admitted to this fire, and suffered a traumatic childhood; one in which he was severely abused and molested. Whether these acts were a pattern of this man’s childhood and life, it is important to focus on the case at hand, and this case was addressing the fire. Whatever the crime a person is being accused of, every individual deserves the opportunity to be properly defended in the court of law.
It is a scary position to be in when accused of a crime, especially a large crime such as arson and murder; and yet he too deserves a chance to fight. If you or someone you know is being accused of any level of crime, contact Okabe & Haushalter today for a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who can help you! We have years of experience helping clients fight for their innocence or lessen their sentencing. While we can make no guarantee of an outcome, our firm will be committed to doing what is necessary to represent our clients. Call today for more information!