Brown has spent 20 years in prison -- since he was 17 -- after being convicted of setting a fire that took the lives of three firefighters.
Reports say some witnesses at the original trial were paid.
Brown was convicted of setting the fire so his mother could collect $20,000 in renters insurance.
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Brown, who was 17 at the time of the fire, was sentenced to life in prison without parole. At trial, the prosecution argued that Brown and his mother, Darlene Buckner, had plotted to set the fire to collect on a $20,000 renter’s insurance policy. Ms. Buckner was found guilty of insurance fraud and ordered to serve three years’ probation.
In 2010, attorneys for Brown filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that they had only recently learned that two of the key witnesses against their client had lied on the stand.
A 15-year-old boy, Ibrahim Abdullah, was housed with Brown at a juvenile placement facility pending trial. He was offered a $15,000 reward from the ATF if he told the jury he heard Brown confess to starting the fire. At trial, Mr. Abdullah said he had not been promised any financial benefit.
The other witness was Keith Wright, Brown’s neighbor. For eight months after the fire, he provided no information about the fire to the authorities until hours after he learned of the reward. Then he told police that he saw Brown at the scene that night.
At trial, Mr. Wright did not say he was being paid either. After the case concluded, Mr. Abdullah received $5,000 and Mr. Wright got $10,000.
Mr. Fawcett said Brown was convicted “because of bad arson science and because [federal Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] investigators, without telling anyone, agree to pay a poor kid — a directionless, young teenage criminal — lots of money if he would testify against Greg.”
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