SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A 28-year-old man accused of setting a deadly 2003 California wildfire that destroyed 1,000 houses wants a quick trial, and it could start next month.
Rickie Lee Fowler was indicted last month and appeared in a San Bernardino courtroom on Tuesday. He refused to waive his right to a speedy trial, even though his new attorney has yet to examine thousands of pages of documents and hundreds of hours of interviews.
Fowler is serving time for an unrelated burglary and is charged with murder and arson. Prosecutors say he set the 2003 Old Fire that caused fatal heart attacks in five people.
Such cases usually take years, but Fowler's trial is tentatively set to start Jan. 4.
Fowler says investigators pressured him into a confession but he didn't set the fire.