Pleasanton Weekly

News - November 18, 2011

Suspect in 1984 slaying gets new attorney

Steven Carlson remains in jail in death of Tina Faelz

by Glenn Wohltmann

A former Santa Clara County prosecutor has taken over the case of Steven Carlson, charged with murder in the death of 14-year-old Foothill High School freshman Tina Faelz, who was killed 27 years ago.

Carlson faces a single count of murder in the death of Faelz, whose body was discovered in a drainage ditch after school April 5, 1984. He remains in the Santa Rita Jail with Cameron Bowman taking over for Richard Foxall, the public defender originally assigned the case.

Bowman is now a partner in the criminal defense firm of Valencia, Ippolito & Bowman, based in San Jose. His LinkedIn profile states he has more than 19 years' experience as a prosecutor and criminal trial attorney and was named trial attorney of the year in 1998. The firm "handles high profile and other sensitive cases," according to his profile.

Bowman was hired by Carlson's family to take the case from the public defender's office.

Whether Carlson will be tried as an adult remains in question. He's set for what's called a fitness hearing on Jan. 10, when Juvenile Court Judge Trina Thompson will determine whether the case will be transferred or remain in juvenile court.

Had Carlson been arrested in 1984 when he was still a teen, a similar hearing would have been held, and the laws from that time still apply. Currently, a juvenile can be charged as an adult by the District Attorney's Office without such a hearing.

Carlson has served time, including a felony count of lewd or lascivious act with a child under 14 years of age and he is on the state's Megan's Law list of sex offenders. Police have previously said Faelz did not appear to have been sexually molested.

Faelz was last seen alive about an hour before her body was found. While the freshman girl often took the bus home from school, she had recently started walking home to avoid being teased by other students riding the bus, her mother, Shirley Orosco, said in a 2008 interview with the Pleasanton Weekly.

Like many of her classmates, Faelz took a back route from the high school, walking on a path that connected through Aster Court to Lemonwood Way and under Interstate 680 to her home in the Valley Trails neighborhood. That day, she only made it part way when police believe she was approached and subsequently stabbed to death.

Fellow high school students who walked the same path found Faelz's body at about 3:25 p.m., only 10 to 15 minutes after investigators believe she was killed, Lt. Darrin Davis said in a 2008 interview. Police also received a call from a trucker who reported seeing her body from the freeway just minutes prior to the students who discovered her.

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