Previous coverage

  • PHOTOS: Gallery from guilty verdict, Aug. 15
  • San Bernardino man, 30, guilty of murder, arson in 2003 Old Fire
  • Jurors inquire about 'intent vs. recklessness' during Old Fire deliberations
  • Update: Old Fire suspect's fate in hand of jury
  • Old Fire suspect opts not to testify, jury to receive case on Wednesday
  • Prosecution focuses on information withheld in Old Fire investigation
  • Former detective used lying techniques in hopes of garnering confession from Old Fire suspect
  • 2004 Fowler interview with law enforcement wraps Tuesday testimony
  • Audio interviews with suspect played again in 2003 Old Fire trial
  • Law professor testifies at Old Fire trial about false confessions
  • After failing polygraph, Fowler admits being present at start of 2003 Old Fire
  • Suspected Old Fire arsonist denies involvement during polygraph test
  • Detective testifies about efforts to find those involved in Old Fire ignition
  • Prosecution in Old Fire trial rests
  • Recorded conversations with suspected Old Fire arsonist shed light on his involvement
  • Coroner: Stress from fire, not pre-existing medical conditions, caused deaths of Old Fire victims
  • Witness testifies Fowler was using drugs and was very angry
  • Family friend testifies on arson suspect's words, behavior at the time of the Old Fire trial
  • Fowler trial testimony focuses on victims
  • Prosecution opens its case against alleged Old Fire arsonist
  • Old Fire victims reflect as trial commences
  • 2003 Old Fire suspect faces death penalty
  • Only Fowler facing trial
  • Details emerge on six victims of deadly 2003 Old Fire
  • Fowler implicates self
  • From jail, suspect denies role in Old Fire
  • The 2003 Old Fire: pain, loss and, finally, some closure six years later
  • Murder, arson charges filed against Old Fire suspect
  • SAN BERNARDINO - Jurors in the trial of suspected Old Fire arsonist Rickie Lee Fowler were taken Wednesday morning to key scenes in the case.

    Prosecution and defense attorneys, as well as sheriff's deputies, joined the jury for the bus ride to the site near Waterman Canyon where the 2003 fire started.

    The group was escorted to a camp site; John Aylward's house, the suspected target of the fire; a boulder near where the flames started; the intersection of Old Waterman Canyon Road and Highway 18, where the suspects' vehicle nearly collided with another car while racing down the mountain; and a turnout overlooking the fire's origin, where a witness said he saw someone throw something, then leave in a van.

    Fowler, 30, of San Bernardino, was present and in custody during the whole tour Wednesday. He was kept in a patrol car 50 to 100 feet from the jurors - who roamed around each location.

    The jury's tour took up most of the morning. Everyone was back inside San Bernardino Superior Court for the afternoon session, which began about 1:30 p.m.

    Fowler is accused of starting the 2003 Old Fire that burned more than 91,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,000 structures after starting on Oct. 25, 2003. The fire cost nearly $38 million.

    The defendant has been charged with five counts of murder and special circumstances, which allow prosecutors to pursue the death penalty if he is convicted. Prosecutors say five residents in burn areas died from heart attacks caused by the stress of evacuation and threats to homes and belongings.

    During the afternoon session, Supervising Deputy District Attorney Robert Bulloch played the remainder of the 2008 jailhouse interview between Fowler and special agents with the U.S. Forest Service.

    In the recorded conversations Fowler tells the special agents that a friend, Martin Valdez Jr., threw a flare into brush on the side of the mountain, starting the fire. Fowler continued to say he didn't start it.

    The two friends were together on the day of the fire, getting high with a group of people. They had an idea to rob Aylward, Fowler's godfather, so they drove up the mountain and parked on the side of the road.

    Valdez was killed in a drive-by shooting years later, and Fowler was the only one charged.

    Following testimony, the prosecution rested its case. The court is in recess until Monday, when the defense is expected to call its first witness.

    Contact Lori via email, by phone at 909-483-9378, or on Twitter @IEcourtsNow.