The father of a 12-year-old California boy who was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of his 8-year-old sister last month said he will believe his son is innocent until evidence proves otherwise.
Barney Fowler, whose daughter Leila was stabbed to death April 27 in the family's Valley Springs home, said he will support his son.
"Until they have the proper evidence to show it's my son, we're standing behind him,"
Fowler told the NBC affiliate KSBW.com. "If they have the evidence, well that's another story. We're an honest family."
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The unidentified boy is accused of stabbing his little sister while their father and stepmother were at a Little League game. The boy told investigators that an intruder with long, gray hair broke into the home and committed the crime,
leaving Leila Fowler on the ground bleeding before fleeing on foot.
A neighbor corroborated the story, telling detectives she, too, had seen a man running away from the house. The story was later recanted and discredited by police when they could find no evidence of a break-in or robbery.
After more than 2,000 hours of investigation, including door-to-door sweeps of the neighborhood, authorities took Leila's brother into custody Saturday evening.
Priscilla Rodriguez, the siblings' mother, appeared on Sacramento's KOVR local TV station last week and described her son as "protective" of his little sister, saying he "could never hurt" her.
"They never even used to fight when they were little," she said. "I've never seen him be mean to her."
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Mark Reichel, the boy's attorney, told local news outlets that the youngster might have lied about seeing a man fleeing the scene, but that doesn't make the boy the killer. He said his client might have made up a "macho" story about scaring away the intruder because he was frightened.
"How does a 12-year-old commit the perfect crime?" Reichel said.
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