The Latest | Southern California breaking news and trends
Crime & Justice

UPDATE: Arsonist Rickie Lee Fowler gets death for 2003 'Old Fire' that killed 5

Rickie Lee Fowler, arsonist convicted of setting 2003 Old Fire.
Rickie Lee Fowler, arsonist convicted of setting 2003 Old Fire.
Photo: San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office

Listen to

Download this 0.0MB

Convicted arsonist Rickie Lee Fowler has been sentenced to death for murdering five men who died of heart attacks during the San Bernardino 'Old Fire' wildfire a decade ago.

Superior Court Judge Michael Smith in San Bernardino sentenced 31-year-old Fowler on Monday after hearing from some of the victims' family members.

Don Jordan, Fowler’s attorney, called the sentencing a miscarriage of justice.

"I put on the record what I believed to be the truth: that he had nothing to do with it," said Jordan. "That he was just such a despicable person, that if there’s anybody that deserved to die for a crime he had nothing to do with to make the community feel better – would be Rickie Fowler.”

Fowler was convicted in August of five counts of first-degree murder and two counts of arson. A jury later recommended a death sentence for Fowler.

Prosecutors say Fowler lit the fire in 2003 out of rage after he was thrown out of a house where his family was staying.

The Old Fire scorched 91,000 acres east of Los Angeles and destroyed 1,000 buildings while burning for nine days. The men died after their homes burned or as they tried to evacuate.