Man sentenced to life in prison for SLO murder, mutilating remains

June 13, 2024

Marco Antonio Cota Jr.


A judge has sentenced a 44-year-old man to 96 years to life in prison for murdering a 64-year-old man and mutilating his remains in the Bianchi Open Space area behind Megan’s Organic Market in San Luis Obispo.

On the evening of Nov. 20, 2021, Marco Antonio Cota Jr. and Rick Fowler, both of whom were homeless, were arguing in the open space, where there were multiple encampments at the time. Cota followed Fowler back to Fowler’s campsite, where Cota attacked and beat him to death. Cota then pierced the body of Fowler with several wooden sticks, even penetrating the victim’s rectum.

When asked by law enforcement personnel why he did so, Cota replied he “wanted to show you what evil looks like,” according to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.

On Feb. 13, 2024, a jury convicted Cota of the murder and mutilation of Fowler. Superior Court Judge Timothy Covello then determined Cota had incurred three prior convictions for “strike” offenses under California’s Three Strikes Law: including a 1998 conviction for robbery in Tulare County and convictions for criminal threats in 2014 and assault with a deadly weapon in 2016, both in San Luis Obispo County.

Covello sentenced Cota to 75 years to life prison, plus 21 years. The judge also ordered Cota to register as a sex offender. 

Following the sentencing, SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow released a statement commending the punishment. 

“Finally, there is justice for Mr. Rick Fowler, the victim in this case, who was senselessly and brutally murdered and his body mutilated,” Dow said. “We are grateful to the jury for faithfully performing their civic duty by their careful attention to the presentation of evidence. Mr. Cota was given a fair trial, and now he will serve his fair and appropriate life sentence in prison. This sentence sends a loud message that violent crime is aggressively prosecuted in San Luis Obispo County.”


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Well at least Cota won’t be living in the homeless encampment coming to Bishop and Johnson in SLO until he gets out.