Tag Archives: investigation

Next Hearing in the Leila Fowler Case

The next hearing in the Leila Fowler case will be on Tuesday June3, 2014 at the Calaveras County Court House.  This will be a procedural hearing regarding various evidence issues and the need for briefs.  However, it means that the trial date of August 12 is fast approaching.


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Your car has its own “Black Box”

Automotive Black Boxes

For nearly two decades Ford and GM have included what are often referred to as Black Boxes to record certain accident related data pertaining to your vehicle.  Generally this data was stored or generated by the Air Bag Module which processes data from sensors placed throughout a vehicle to determine whether or not air bags should or should not be deployed (inflated).

The systems were originally developed for and installed in race cars to help build safer vehicles.  Over time they were inserted in consumer vehicles and after some court battles the means to readily download this data for use in accident reconstruction cases became available.  

Depending on the system, impact sets off the sensors which transmit data to the Air Bag Module.  The ABM gathers information on speed, RPMs, whether or not seats are occupied, whether seat belts are engaged, whether the brake is engaged and point of impact.  This data is stored in the module and can be downloaded in a very readable form for varying periods of time.  Typically situations calling for the deployment of air bags are stored indefinitely and those that do not are retained for a certain number of ignition cycles.  (Each time you start the engine and then shut it off = one ignition cycle.)

The data can be downloaded from the car or the module can be removed depending on the circumstances.  Either way hardware is necessary to access the data.  Therefore, a technician can not pull up near your car and conduct a wireless download of data.

This information is collected by law enforcement in many accident situations, but insurance companies have been slow to download the data from their clients’ vehicles in non-fatal situations.  In fact most cars go to scrap before data is downloaded or the driver effectively erases the data after X number of ignition cycles are exceeded.  Either way important evidence is destroyed.

One of the the concerns about this data involves privacy and the issue of who owns the information.  The US Senate just passed a bill that says the car owner or lessee is owner rather than the manufacturer or lessor.  http://editorial.autos.msn.com/blogs/post–senators-propose-law-covering-car-black-box-data

You should be aware that this data exists and could be used to prove your case if you are ever involved in an accident. 

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Another hearing in the Leila Fowler case.

We were back in court today for a procedural hearing regarding a future trial date in the Leila Fowler murder case.  The defense attorneys, Steve Plesser and Mark Reichel explain the status of the case in this clip from KCRA TV in Sacramento.  http://www.kcra.com/Brother-of-Leila-Fowler-appears-in-court-for-short-hearing/-/11798090/21271678/-/f143tt/-/index.html#.UfnQFHnqTEU.facebook

Much of the physical evidence has yet to be processed in this case and we have received almost nothing from the work conducted by the F.B.I.  Included in that work is the sketch of a suspect seen near the Fowler’s home on the morning of the murder. 

Things just don’t move as quickly as they do in a 60 minute TV show. 

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Shrinkage (Not George Costanza Shrinkage)

I recently received a photo from an I Phone via an E-mail.  The resolution was sorely lacking and upon further investigation I found that the photo as received was 2 megapixel resolution rather than the full 8 megapixel the phone’s camera is capable of providing.

Apparently, I Phones automatically downsize the resolution of photos when you use the share function.  With the help of an IT friend, I found the following solution at lifehacker.com.

“Even though your iPhone snaps pictures at pretty decent resolutions (2048×1536 from the 3GS, 1600×1200 on previous iPhone versions), your device automatically resizes photos to a measly 800×600 when you go to email them. Here’s how to fix that.

The resized pictures may be enough under certain circumstances, but if you want your pics to make it through your email in their full glory, it’s a simple matter of copy and paste.

As weblog Geek stuff points out, the resizing only happens when you share photos from your photo library via your iPhone’s traditional Share button—which imports the resized pictures into an empty email. Instead of taking that route, either tap and hold on a single picture and then tap copy or select multiple pictures in album view and tap the Copy button at the bottom of your screen. Then head back to the home screen, fire up Mail, compose a new email, and paste the photos into the new message. Rather than the smaller, resized pictures, you’ll get the full resolution versions.”


If getting the best possible resolution is important when using photos for evidence you may wish to make use of this advice and get the full muscle your I Phone camera has to offer.

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How digital data can be obtained by the government.

This is a detailed article brought to my attention by the Reichel & Plesser law firm of Sacramento, CA.  It goes through how various types of digital information from your phone and a variety of other sources is accessible to the government.


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A little bit more about the Fowler case.

The following article appeared in People Magazine.


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Fowler Case Update

Meeting Isaiah

At last Wednesday’s hearing I met Isaiah Fowler for the first time, albeit only via introduction by his attorney Mark Reichel (www.reichelplesser.com).  We were in court and there was no time to converse with the young man.  It is difficult to get too much of a read on him, but he does look very tired.  As you would expect with a 12 year old, it is difficult to determine during so brief an encounter if he fully understands everything that is going on around him.  He was very quiet and reserved, but did make eye contact with everyone.

Mr. Mellen’s Statements

Now to the comments about Mr. Mellen’s statements regarding what he did and did not see on the morning of the stabbing.  After carefully reviewing the limited evidence provided to this point by the police, Mr. Mellen does not live across the street from the Fowler residence, except in a fairly broad definition of that term.  His address appears in the Police Reports.

Imagine that you are standing in the street facing the Fowlers’ residence.  To left  the road goes up hill toward central Valley Springs and the baseball fields where the Fowlers were watching the game that morning.  To your right the street runs downhill in the direction of Mr. Mellen’s home.  Running Mellen’s address through Google maps, Mellen’s house is at least six (6) houses downhill from the Fowler’s.  In addition he has a sizable tree in the front yard.

The Fowlers would have returned to their house that morning from the opposite direction.  After coming over the apex of the road, they would have almost immediately turned into their driveway.  The odds seem very small that anyone living at least six houses down the street would have noticed them arriving.  It should be pointed out that in this neighborhood the lots are large and the homes are not wedged up against each other.  The point is the Fowlers did not go past Mellens’ house when they rushed home that morning.

Where were the dogs?

One neighbor I interviewed wondered where the Fowlers’ dogs were on the morning of the attack and where they have been since.  This neighbor was sure the Fowlers kept two (2) dogs at the house, one of which was always tied up near the front door.  That neighbor need not worry about the dogs.  The Fowlers never owned any dogs while living at the house.  Neighbors right around the Fowlers’ house confirmed that the previous tenants had two dogs that were treated poorly.  One witness said that one of the dogs was tied up to the bumper of a truck regardless of the weather.  The same neighbors confirmed that there were no dogs at that location for at least a year and half.

The Search Warrant Rumor

One member of the press asked if it was true that Mr. Fowler would not let police into the house when they arrived without a warrant.  The report by the Officer who arrived first at the scene included no such claim and every subsequent report of interviews with Mr. Fowler show that he was extremely co-operative with the police.

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