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SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. – On Tuesday, a San Luis Obispo County jury convicted Marco Antonio Cota Jr., 44, of first-degree murder and mutilation of human remains for the killing of Rick Fowler in November of 2021.

On Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Timothy Covello found true the allegation that Cota Jr. had three prior three-strike convictions: a 1998 conviction for robbery in Tulare County, a 2014 conviction for Criminal Threats, and a 2016 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, both in San Luis Obispo County explain San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.

On Nov. 20, 2021, Cota Jr. and Fowler were involved in a verbal argument in the Bianchi Open Space area before Cota Jr. followed Fowler back to his campsite detail San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.

Cota Jr. then beat Fowler to death and pierced his body with several sticks state San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.

According to San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, Cota Jr. is next scheduled to appear for sentencing on Mar. 11, 2024, in Department 5 of the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court where he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

This incident was investigated by the San Luis Obispo City Police Department with assistance from the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation and the case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Melissa Chabra.

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