By Steve Almasy
(CNN) — The 12-year-old California boy accused of stabbing his 8-year-old sister to death will be tried as juvenile, his attorney said Tuesday.
Mark Reichel said he has yet to see the evidence against the boy, but he expects his client to be arraigned Wednesday morning on a second-degree murder charge.
Leila Fowler was stabbed multiple times in her family’s home in northern California April 27 while she was there with her brother, who is now accused of the crime.
“He’s holding up well under the circumstances,” Reichel said. “I don’t know what they are saying and why they charged him, but if the district attorney’s office is charging him because they believe he said something that was untrue, that still doesn’t mean he committed this crime.”
The boy told police a man had broken into the family’s home.
After the killing, police offered a sketchy description of the suspect as a 6-foot-tall white or Hispanic male with a muscular build. They also interviewed registered sex offenders in the area, ran down leads and searched in attics, storage sheds and more in the rural, mountainous community located about 60 miles southeast of Sacramento.
They arrested the boy on Saturday.
On the day of the killing, Leila’s father and his fiancee weren’t home. Her father’s fiancee called 911 and told a police dispatcher that her children were scared because a strange man had broken into the house, according to an emergency call released Tuesday.
When the dispatcher asks what the emergency is, Crystal Walters tells her: “My children are home alone, and a man just ran out of my house. My older son was in the bathroom and my daughter started screaming. When he came out there was a man inside my house, I need an officer there.”
Walters says that the boyfriend of an older daughter was on the phone with the children in the house.
The dispatcher asks if the children had seen the man and if they could describe him.
“They did see him, yes. My daughter is freaking out right now,” she says. After giving the dispatcher a home phone number, she adds, “They said they are okay, but I need you to come.”
Although the call indicates the girl was alive and well, when police arrived, she had been stabbed.
Leila died minutes after arriving at the hospital, authorities said. She died of shock and hemorrhages from her wounds, the Calaveras County Coroner’s office said.
Before Leila’s death, the boy’s middle school in Valley Springs suspended him for five days after he brought the knife to school, according to one of the boy’s classmates. That account was backed up by a school administration source.
Authorities haven’t revealed what kind of knife was used in Leila’s death.
The death of Leila, known for her bubbly personality, shook the small northern California town of Valley Springs, where ribbons in her favorite color of purple were tied to stop signs.