The man suspected of murdering a homeless person by the creek bed at Bianchi Open Space on Nov. 20 is being investigated for a slew of prior charges he racked up over the years, according to the San Luis Obispo Police Department
- File Image Courtesy Of San Luis Obispo Police Department
- CRIMINAL HISTORY SLOPD said that the homicide suspect hasn't been charged with murder yet, and is waiting for his arraignment with the DA on Dec. 27
"He hasn't been arraigned on a homicide charge yet. The suspect is on parole violation, and other agencies are examining him in several other cases," SLO Police Sgt. Aaron Schafer said.
The suspect, who's currently in custody, is 42-year-old Marco Cota Jr., a homeless man from Exeter who allegedly got into a brawl with another transient named Rick Fowler, 64, ultimately killing him. On Dec. 10, court documents filed by the SLO County District Attorney's Office accused Cota of two counts of criminal offenses—murder in malice, and mutilation and sexual contact with human remains.
The alleged killing took place around 3 a.m. and police arrived at the scene of the crime after responding to a medical aid call at around 5 p.m. Schafer told New Times that Cota is in custody for being under the influence of controlled substances. He was supposed to go to court for an arraignment on Dec. 13 but the hearing was postponed to Dec. 27.
"The DA may add the two new charges pending their review of all the evidence that we collected," Schafer said.
Starting in 1998, prior charges against Cota range from robbery and making criminal threats to assault with a deadly weapon, according to the DA's report.
The creek bed where Fowler was allegedly killed, north of Madonna Road and east of Highway 101, is a spot where many of SLO's homeless people congregate, Schafer said. He added that while there were no eyewitnesses to the crime, the police received the service call from one of the unhoused individuals who came across the body. About half a dozen people had gathered around the location by then. Schafer said that the police put them up in hotel rooms for the night because the initial investigation concluded late, at 10 p.m.
"Obviously, this is a serious incident in that area. Our concern is to find resources for those people. That's the No. 1 goal: have them seek resources if they choose to," he said. Δ