After a two-week delay in which prosecutors and attorneys for Greg Brown had to convince a judge he either does not or does have the authority to set bail, Court of Common Pleas Judge Joseph Williams decided that he could do so. He set bail at $750,000 straight cash for Brown, who is facing a retrial in the 1995 death of three Pittsburgh firefighters.
“We’re in a position now where it’s possible that Greg Brown and his family will be able to raise the funds necessary for him to have a few days of freedom after 18 years of wrongful conviction,” said David Fawcett, an attorney for Brown, “and we’re satisfied that it’s an appropriate result.”
Fawcett acknowledged that it is a high amount of money and said it’s unlikely the family has the amount on hand, but added everything will be done to figure out a funding source. Before setting the bail amount, Williams said one concern is the families of the firefighters who died in the house fire Brown was accused of setting. He said the fact remains that three firefighters lost their lives, and while it remains to be determined if Brown was responsible, he feared this decision was like a “Band-Aid being pulled off for the families who thought they had closure.”
“The judge talked about the difficulty that we have here, and frankly that we’ve had from the start which is there was a tragedy,” Fawcett said, “and he’s (Judge Williams) sensitive to the victims of the fire, and I think this was an acknowledgement to them.”
Williams also ordered Brown be held in Allegheny County until his new trial or until bail is posted.
“He’s been incarcerated in the eastern part of the state and now the judge has ordered be incarcerated here in Allegheny County which is where his family is, where his support systems are, and that makes sense to us,” Fawcett said.
Brown is serving three life sentences for the fire that killed the firefighters. But Williams ruled last month that Brown should get a new trial. That decision was made after it was determined that prosecutors didn't reveal that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms paid one witness a $5,000 reward.
A new trial date has yet to be set.