FreeUS / Gregory Brown, Jr.

June 16, 2021

In 1995 a Pittsburgh fire department responded to a burning house in the Homewood section of the city. Three firefighters died attempting to extinguish the blaze at Darlene Buckner's residence, which was later determined to be the result of arson.

The District Attorney charged Darlene Buckner and her son, Gregory Brown Jr. with the murders of the firefighters. The initial theory was that Brown's mother ordered him to torch their home for the insurance money. However, evidence revealed that there was no home insurance, only $20,000 in renters insurance. Buckner was cleared of her charges while her juvenile son was tried as an adult, convicted, and sentenced to serve a lifetime sentence without the possibility of parole.

At Brown's trial two witnesses had testified that Brown had confessed to igniting the fire that killed the firefighters. For years, Brown maintained his innocence buy his efforts to clear his name were fruitless. Until...

On May 5, 2010, Brown filed a petition for Post-Conviction relief claiming that the District attorneh withheld evidence that indicated the fire was accidental and not the product of arson. At an evidentiary hearing on January 31, 2012, one of the witnesses testified that the District Attorney secretly paid both witnesses to testify against Brown.

The appellate court ruled that the District Attorney knew the witnesses were motivated by the money it paid and said misconduct. Brown was awarded a new trial in 2016. The D.A.s office finally dropped all of the charges.

Innocent people are convicted because we I've failed to address the the fatal flaw of unfairness in the justice system. When criminal proceedings are fair, the innocent do not fall victim to incarceration. and the guilty get what they actually deserve?