DA appeals judge’s refusal to step down in fatal arson

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Prosecutors have appealed a western Pennsylvania judge’s refusal to step down from presiding over the retrial of a man in the arson deaths of three Pittsburgh firefighters two decades ago.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Williams III said the district attorney’s office hadn’t backed up allegations that he would be unfair in the case of 38-year-old Gregory Brown Jr.

Brown was sentenced to three life terms in the 1995 fire but won a new trial on the grounds that prosecutors hadn’t revealed that two witnesses in the case were promised reward money.

The county district attorney’s office alleged that the judge was biased against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a prospective witness.

Defense attorney Jason Hazlewood said he feared the appeal would delay Brown’s retrial.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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