VALLEY SPRINGS (CBS13) – An 8-year-old girl was stabbed to death and her 12-year-old brother convicted of the killing.

Now, there’s been a stunning reversal.

Isiah Fowler convicted of killing Leila Fowler nearly five years ago at the family’s home. But family members say the killer is still out there.

It was a murder case that rocked the tiny community of Valley Springs. First, a little girl was brutally murdered then her own brother convicted. Then on Thursday, an appeals court judge reversed that decision, meaning the case may go to trial all over again.

In 2013, Isiah had been the first to call 911, reporting he found Leila’s body inside their house and watched a suspect run away. He quickly turned from a witness to a suspect despite maintaining his innocence all along. Prosecutors said inconsistencies in his interviews immediately after the murder proved he was the killer, and a court agreed.

Now, that is all changing. An appeals judge ruling his testimony cannot be used because Isiah was not read his rights.

Fowler’s attorney Steve Plesser says charging a 12-year-old with something this heinous was unusual, to begin with.

“And then to have a 12-year-old confess in spite of being interrogated several times,” he said. “So those were all unusual enough as it is, having an appeal granted after a conviction in a homicide case, very unusual.”

Isiah’s mother issued a statement reading, “Its been a long five years. Isiah is innocent our family hopes to get justice and figure out who did this to Leila.”

The Calaveras County District Attorney’s Office did not want to comment on the reversal ruling.


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