- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 15, 2017

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Attorneys for a man awaiting a new trial in a fire that killed three Pittsburgh firefighters more than two decades ago are asking a federal judge to dismiss the indictment against him.

Gregory Brown Jr., 40, was originally convicted in Allegheny County and sentenced to life in the Valentine’s Day fire in 1995. But he was granted a new trial after his defense argued prosecutors and a federal agent failed to turn over evidence that witnesses were offered money in exchange for their testimonies.

Prosecutors later turned over jurisdiction to the federal courts, and federal prosecutors obtained an indictment on a charge of malicious destruction of property by fire resulting in death, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Brown’s attorneys Monday sought dismissal of the indictment, saying “nothing about this case is new” and a new trial “cannot neutralize the taint of the misconduct” by prosecutors, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (https://bit.ly/2vZrf5R ) reported. They cited due process and double jeopardy concerns, said a retrial would violate a five-year statute of limitations and would amount to “vindictive prosecution.”

Prosecutors had alleged that Brown, then 17, poured a half-gallon of gasoline on some clothes in the basement of the four-story home and started the blaze in hopes of collecting $20,000 in insurance money for a down payment on a new home. Pittsburgh fire Capt. Thomas Brooks, 42, and firefighters Marc Kolenda, 27, and Patricia Conroy, 43, suffocated when their air tanks ran out as they tried to escape from the rapidly burning home, authorities said.

Brown was originally convicted of three counts of second-degree murder, arson and related charge sentenced to three life terms. His mother was convicted of insurance fraud and was placed on probation.

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Information from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, https://www.post-gazette.com

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