Rickie Flowler stands in court on Friday in San Bernardino. His sentencing was delayed.
Rickie Flowler stands in court on Friday in San Bernardino. His sentencing was delayed. ((Lori Fowler/Staff))
The sentencing of Rickie Lee Fowler, the convicted Old Fire arsonist who faces the death penalty, was delayed on Friday.

Lawyers spent Friday's court hearing talking about a letter Fowler wrote to the court in which he asked for additional counsel or new counsel and said his current lawyer was ineffective.

"In the letter Mr. Fowler complained certain things that should have been done in this case weren't done," said Judge Michael Smith in San Bernardino Superior Court.

Fowler's main complaint was that he wanted to plead not guilty by reason of insanity but that was not the direction his lawyer took during the trial, lawyers later explained.

Smith scheduled an informal hearing for Dec. 14 in which he will privately discuss the issues with Fowler and his lawyer, Don Jordan, behind closed doors with the aim of deciding whether Fowler and Jordan can continue working together as lawyer and client and if Jordan has done anything wrong.

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Robert Bulloch told Smith he didn't want Fowler's sentencing to be put off too long.

"I would just like the sentencing to go forward as soon as possible," Bulloch said.

In September, jurors recommended that Fowler receive the death penalty for the 2003 wildfire that consumed more than 90,000 acres in the San Bernardino Mountains and which, prosecutors contended, led to the deaths of five men.

That same jury convicted Fowler on Aug. 15 of five counts of first-degree murder and two counts of arson in connection with the blaze, which burned more than 1,000 structures.

Throughout the trial, Fowler maintained he did not start the fire. He said he was present and had intentions of lighting the deadly blaze, but a friend grabbed a road flare from his hand, lit it and threw it into the mountainside brush before he could.

Jordan said he plans to file a motion for a new trial. He said he is investigating and looking to contact three witnesses.

"We believe Rickie was with those people at their house at the very time the fire started," Jordan said after the court hearing Friday. "If we can establish that, he didn't do it (start the fire)."

If Jordan files a motion for a new trial, Smith will make his ruling on Jan. 28. If the judge denies the motion, Fowler will likely be sentenced that day.

Jordan said justice had not been done in the trial.

"People who think the person who started the Old Fire has been brought to justice are kidding themselves," he said.