By Ron Jones

VALLEY SPRINGS (CBS13) — As the shock of the arrest of a 12-year-old boy in the stabbing death of his 8-year-old sister begins to recede, questions arise over how it happened and what will happen to the preteen suspect.

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Defense attorney Mark Reichel says the first step for the suspect in the death of Leila Fowler will be a day in juvenile court.

“That’s a whole different arena, and the process is much more different than most of us are aware,” Reichel said.

In juvenile court, the 12-year-old will not face a jury of his peers. A judge will instead weigh the facts and determine a sentence that could be years of rehabilitation and education.

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Since he is only 12, the suspect cannot be tried as an adult in the state of California, no matter the circumstances, Reichel said.

If convicted, he could be locked up for a very long time.

“The maximum possible is he’ll be held at a youth authority until he is 25 years old, and then he will be released as an adult on parole,” Reichel said.

The legal problems in the case aren’t just for the boy. If a family member tried to mislead investigators, they could face jail time.

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“I think every single one of them needs an attorney,” Reichel said. “Any coverups or any assistance they gave, or any false statements or any misleading communications they gave to law enforcement could have hindered the investigation, and that in itself is a crime.