A federal appellate court said Tuesday that prosecutors can retry a man whose conviction in the 1995 deaths of three firefighters in the East Hills was overturned. Pittsburgh Fire Capt. Thomas Brooks, Firefighter Patricia Conroy and Firefighter Marc Kolenda were killed on Feb. 14, 1995, when they became trapped in the basement of a burning home after a stairwell collapsed
In a 19-page opinion, the three judge-panel from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the federal retrial of Gregory Brown Jr., on a single charge of malicious destruction of property by fire resulting in death, does not violate his double jeopardy rights.
Just after midnight on Feb. 14, 1995, Pittsburgh firefighters responded to a home on Bricelyn Street. Several entered the basement. Marc Kolenda, 27, Patricia Conroy, 43, and Capt. Thomas Brooks, 42, were killed when a stairwell collapsed.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated and said gasoline was found in the basement. They ruled the fire arson and offered a $15,000 reward for information on the case.
One witness, Keith Wright, offered testimony that undermined Brown’s alibi that he had been at the grocery store with his mother at the time of the fire. Another, Ibrahim Abdullah, said Brown admitted to him that he set the fire.
Brown was charged and prosecuted by a joint team of federal and state authorities. The case was heard in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.
The prosecution alleged that Brown, then 17, started the fire at his mother’s request to collect on a renter’s insurance policy. His mother, Darlene Buckner, was also charged.
MORE HERE: https://triblive.com/local/appellate-court-says-man-can-be-retried-in-deaths-of-3-pittsburgh-firefighters/