The man charged with murdering his high school classmate almost three decades ago was found guilty of contempt of court charges Friday for granting an August jailhouse interview, thus violating a day-old gag order.
Steven J. Carlson, 43, a registered sex offender with a criminal history involving drugs and battery, was on suspicion of stabbing 14-year-old Tina Faelz to death as she walked home from school one April day in 1984.
Carlson was 16 at the time, and a classmate of Tina's at
Carlson appeared inside a courtroom at the San Leandro Juvenile Justice Center on Friday. The contempt hearing took no longer than 10 minutes.
Judge Trina Thompson found Carlson guilty based on a interview he did with Contra Costa Times reporter Eric Louie on Aug. 11, one day after a gag order was issued in the case. Thompson said he was on notice that he was not to discuss the case with members of the media.
Carlson's attorney, Richard Foxall argued that he believes Louie did not identify himself to Carlson as a reporter, and did not show a press credential or identification.
Thompson said the order was disobeyed nonetheless.
He could face a maximum of five days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Thompson said this will be dealt with only at the conclusion of the murder trial.
During Carlson's interview with the Times, he insisted that he's innocent.
"I may be a dirtbag," he said in the interview. "But I didn't hurt nobody."
Carlson will appear in court again on Oct. 27. On that date, the court will deliberate the legal issues surrounding putting an adult on trial in juvenile court for a capital offense he allegedly committed as a 16-year-old.
At that hearing, the court will have the results of a behavioral assessment that is standard for juveniles being considered for transfer to the adult court system.
While prosecutors are seeking to try Carlson as an adult, in August his first public defender, Aundrea Brown, argued successfully that the case must abide by juvenile court protocol for now. At the Oct. 27 hearing, the court will decide to move the case to adult court.
None of Tina's family members attended on Wednesday, nor did Carlson's.
Carlson's father, right after Carlson's arrest, said he doesn't believe his son committed this crime.
The Faelz murder shook the Pleasanton community because of the grisly nature of the crime, and also because the killing happened in daylight, right after school let out. Classmates found Tina's body around 3 p.m. alongside a creekbed and tunnel that was a popular shortcut for kids walking to and from Foothill.
The concrete tunnel, which no longer exists, ran from Lemonwood Way behind the high school and passed under Interstate 680 to the Valley Trails neighborhood, where Faelz lived.
At the time of Tina's death, Carlson lived with his parents and siblings on Lemonwood Way in a home mere feet from where Faelz' body was found.
Although he was 16 in 1984, Carlson was a Foothill freshman. He did not graduate, and his father told Patch that he left home at 17.
Carlson is being held without bail at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
Patch writer Susan Schena contributed to this report.