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
  • The jury hearing the trial of suspected Old Fire arsonist Ricky Lee Fowler began deliberations Wednesday after the prosecution and defense gave their closing arguments.

    Deputy District Attorney Robert Bulloch told jurors in San Bernardino Superior Court the key evidence was a confession by Fowler. There is no physical evidence, nor DNA evidence, to link the defendant to the 2003 deadly wildfire, he said.

    Fowler, 30, of San Bernardino, is accused of sparking the 2003 Old Fire that burned more than 91,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,000 structures.

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

    "The defense blames news releases for Fowler being accused of lighting the Old Fire," Bulloch said. "Fowler admitted to `the whole thing' and was up to his eyeballs in it."

    Bulloch told the jury to consider all the evidence because, he said, there is no doubt Fowler acted with "reckless indifference" by throwing the flare that ignited the firestorm.

    Defense attorney Donald Jordan told jurors that finding a first-degree murder conviction in California for starting a fire was a stretch.

    Jordan said the idea that Fowler started the fire to burn down a house that was robbed only is a theory. Authorities received hundreds of leads that led nowhere and according to Jordan, a reward from Stater Bros. Markets to find the arsonist tainted the investigation.

    Jordan said his client wasn't guilty and that some people confess to high-profile crimes for notoriety.

    "Ricky Lee Fowler is a unique person," said Jordan. "He does things to make himself the center of attention."

    "His actions were evil," countered Bulloch. "He is evil!"


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