By Michael P. Neufeld
San Bernardino, CA – Old Fire arsonist Rickie Lee Fowler has decided to retain his current attorneys.
The decision to keep his defense team, headed by Don Jordan and Michael Belter, was announced during a San Bernardino Superior Court hearing before Judge Michael A. Smith. The hearing — held December 14 — was scheduled to hear Fowler’s request for a new attorney, made November 16.
Judge was prepared to sentence the 31-year-old Fowler on that date, but a letter from the man, convicted August 15 of five counts of first-degree murder and two counts of arson in connection with the October 2003 Old Fire, promoted the Marsden Hearing. A Marsden motion is the only means by which a criminal defendant can fire a court-appointed attorney or communicate directly with a Superior Court judge.
Judge Smith called the hearing to order at 7:31 a.m. and Fowler withdrew his motion asking for the change and/or additional counsel.
By Fowler withdrawing the motion, Judge Smith confirmed the Monday, January 28, sentencing date in Department S-19 at 8:30 a.m.
A previous open court motion by Fowler, related to the defendant’s request for kosher meals, was denied by Judge Smith.
Fowler is currently in custody at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. Fowler, who complained to Judge Smith on August 23 that he was being teased by fellow inmates during the bus trip from Rancho Cucamonga, was attired in a green jumpsuit during Friday’s court appearance signifying he is in protective custody. Deputies are also providing special transportation for Fowler for each court appearance.