Public Safety
3:16 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Bond Hearing Delayed for Man Being Re-Tried in Firefighter Deaths

Attorneys for Greg Brown have one week to put together their argument for why their client is eligible for bail.

Prosecutors have one week to prove why he is, as they contend, not eligible. Brown was scheduled for a bond hearing in a re-trial for a 1997 conviction. Court of Common Pleas Judge Joseph K. Williams gave both sides until March 3 to file their briefs, and himself another week to decide whether he can set bail.

Brown has been in prison since 1996 for a house fire that killed three Pittsburgh firefighters. He was found guilty of arson, second-degree murder and conspiracy. Brown was accused of conspiring with his mother to set the fire and collect insurance money from the blaze. Firefighters Thomas Brooks, Patricia Conroy and Marc Kolenda died in the blaze. Brown's mother was convicted of insurance fraud and sentenced to probation.

Last week, Williams granted a new trial when it was revealed prosecutors did not reveal that a key witness was getting money from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. David Fawcett, an attorney for Brown, said other than that there is no proof of arson.

“The only proof that there was were two witnesses who were paid for their testimony, in one instance a 15-year-old boy being offered $15,000 to testify,” he said, “and that was a testimony that the jury verdict hung on.”

That witness testified he wasn't promised any money for his testimony, which Williams said could have been used to impeach his credibility had Brown's defense known about the reward. Fawcett said getting a re-trial for Brown has been a long fight.

“We’re very lucky to be where we are,” he said. “We’re here because of the good, hard work of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, of journalism students who pursued evidence, and years and years of trying to get evidence the government should have provided but did not."

Now, the fight continues as attorneys for Brown try to get him released on bond. The retrial will be delayed while prosecutors appeal the judge's decision, and there is disagreement over whether Williams has the authority to set bail. If he decides he can, another bond hearing will be set.

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