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Steven Carlson pleaded not guilty today to a charge that he murdered 14-year-old Tina Faelz in Pleasanton nearly 28 years ago. Carlson, who is now 44, was 16 at the time of the killing and was Faelz’s classmate at Foothill High School in Pleasanton. Her body was discovered the afternoon of April 5, 1984, in a drainage area adjacent to Interstate Highway 680. She had been stabbed numerous times.The area east of the high school where Faelz was found was undeveloped at the time and was frequently traveled by students walking to and from school, police said.
The crime remained unsolved for 27 years until Pleasanton police announced Aug. 7 that DNA evidence had linked Carlson to Faelz’s death. Carlson could have been prosecuted as a juvenile because he was under 18 when Faelz was murdered but in January Alameda County Superior Court Judge Rhonda Burgess ruled that he should be prosecuted as an adult.
She cited the degree of criminal sophistication exhibited in the killing, the severity of the crime, and previous failed attempts at rehabilitating Carlson, among other considerations. Carlson’s criminal history includes convictions for committing lewd acts with a child under the age of 14, and assault. Carlson, who is being held at the county jail without bail, is scheduled to return to court on April 30 for a pretrial hearing.
Dressed in a red jail uniform, he smiled and laughed as he chatted with his attorney, Cameron Bowman, before his brief hearing today. When Carlson was arrested and charged last August, Pleasanton police said that after Faelz’s body was discovered, they conducted exhaustive crime-scene processing and interviewed classmates, friends, school faculty and nearby residents.
Police said that in the many years since the murder, they kept the case open and investigated any tips or new information that emerged.In late 2007, police again re-examined the evidence that was collected at the time of the killing, using scientific analyses that weren’t available in 1984. Evidence was submitted to two different laboratories for examination. In October 2010, the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Va., provided information to Pleasanton police that led them to identify Carlson as a suspect in Faelz’s murder.
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