Rich Pedroncelli / AP file
Teacher Cecilia Richardson helps a student tie a ribbon honoring murder victim, third grader Leila Fowler, at Jenny Lind Elementary School in Valley Springs, Calif., Monday April 29, 2013.
A 12-year-old California boy accused of fatally stabbing his 8-year-old sister pleaded not guilty during a closed court proceeding on Wednesday, his attorney said, according to NBC News affiliate KCRA.
The young boy who has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Leila Fowler spoke once during the Calaveras County juvenile court proceeding, saying “yes” when the judge asked if he waived his right to a speedy trial.
There is no “smoking gun” pointing to the boy’s guilt, said attorney Mark Reichel, who is representing the boy.
The boy originally said that an intruder was responsible in the death of his sister, setting off a two-week manhunt centered on the Northern California town of Valley Springs. Officers went door to door in a search for the tall man with long gray hair who the boy said he startled before discovering his bleeding sister.
“We’re still in the middle of our own personal investigation of the facts,” Reichel said, according to KCRA.
The boy’s family has said they’re supporting their son until all the facts are known.
“Until they have the proper evidence to show it’s my son, we’re standing behind him,” the boy’s father Barnet Fowler told the Associated Press. “If they have the evidence, well, that’s another story. We’re an honest family.”
The boy, who is not being named by NBC News because he is a minor, is attending school classes from his single-room jail cell, KCRA reported.
“We talk to him often, and he’s doing pretty well actually,” Reichel said. “It’s not ideal, but it’s acceptable for now.”