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Scranton Arson & Homicide Suspect to Face Trial

A Scranton man who is facing charges for setting a fire that killed his father last year will head to trial.
A Scranton man who is facing charges for setting a fire that killed his father last year will head to trial.

For nearly four hours Thursday, a judge heard testimony in the case of Kevin Brown.

Brown is facing homicide and arson charges.

Fire investigators testified that they believe Kevin Brown set three fires inside his home on Rockwell Avenue in November and then locked the doors so his dad couldn't get out.

Three people saw the blaze and rushed to help.

Those eyewitnesses testified in court Thursday.

Many people would consider Paul Robak a hero. He helped to pull 78-year-old James Brown out of the burning building.

"Just a natural instinct. I believe anybody would do the same thing," Robak said.

The problem is, prosecutors and police say the fire was no accident.

Robak and other witnesses testified that as the building was still burning and his father was still trapped inside, Kevin Brown sat in the backyard rambling on. They say his words were chilling.

"Just about letting his father burn, letting his father die. You can't just let somebody die," Robak said.

Brown's attorney tried unsuccessfully to get the charges thrown out. He said there is nothing that directly connects Kevin Brown to setting the fire.

Prosecutors disagree.

"He demonstrates in an interview with police that he's the only other person inside the home," Assistant District Attorney Mark Giannotti said. "He gives us an idea of his motive when he says there's an argument with his father immediately beforehand."

Kevin Brown's father died in the hospital after the fire.

There were some questions about the suspect's mental health but he has been found competant to stand trial.

"He was determined to be competant which is what held up the preliminary hearing for a little while since the day of the fire was in November," Giannotti said. "We've moved past that point but I'm sure they'll be some issues raised with regards to his mental health before trial."

"I just hope justice is done and if the man needs help, get him help, that's all I have to say," Robak said.

Kevin Brown's public defender declined to comment about Thursday's hearing.

At this point, no trial date has been set.
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