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San Bernardino Arsonist Changes Plea from Not Guilty

Do you remember the “Old Fire” back in 2003? The one that started near Old Waterman Canyon Road above San Bernardino and burned for nine days? It destroyed more than 91,000 acres, burned almost 1,000 homes and caused $170 million dollars on property losses, says the District Attorney’s Office of San Bernardino.

The suspected arsonist who has been accused of starting the fire, Rickie Lee Fowler, has apparently offered to settle his capital case with prosecutors, offering to withdraw his current “not guilty” plea. Deputy District Attorney Robert Bulloch, the prosecutor, has asked the court for time to discuss Fowler’s new offer with his office to determine whether or not it is acceptable.

Fowler was indicted by the Grand Jury in October of 2009, six years to the month from the fire, and faces five counts of murder plus special circumstances. These charges allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty if he is convicted.

Why five counts of murder? Prosecutors allege that the stress of evacuation and threats to homes and belongings caused five residents in the burn area to die of heart attacks, and because Fowler started the fire intentionally, he is responsible for their deaths.

Again with the death penalty. Do you feel that Fowler should get the death penalty for these heart-attack cases? Can it be proved without a doubt that the stress of the fires were the cause of the heart attacks? Did these people have existing heart conditions?

If you think that absolutely Fowler is responsible for all five deaths, please let us know why you feel this way in the comment box. If you think that it is not credible to pin these deaths on Fowler, but you could only if they perished from smoke inhalation or the fire itself, please let us know, too. Let us know how you feel about the death penalty overall! This seems to be another situation where the story gets more complicated as you learn more.

At the Law Offices of Glew & Kim, we see all clients as innocent until proven guilty, and believe in equal justice for all. If you or someone you know has been involved in a crime and needs honest, unbiased defense, please call us immediately on 714-713-4525 or use our online form for a free case analysis.