An outraged Philadelphia district attorney yesterday said she will re-charge a Port Richmond man with third-degree murder for allowing his home pot farm to overheat and ignite a fire that killed two city firefighters this summer.
The decision to re-arrest Daniel Brough came in response to Tuesday's dismissal of third-degree murder charges by Municipal Judge Teresa Deni.
"I was truly shocked," D.A. Lynne Abraham said. "I was saddened, surprised and shocked that Judge Deni didn't...hold this case for court."
Deni ruled that there wasn't enough evidence presented at Brough's preliminary hearing to try him for the murders of fire Capt. John Taylor and Firefighter Rey Rubio. She apparently agreed with Brough's defense attorney, who argued that the necessary element of malice was missing in the case.
Deni also dropped a charge of possession with intent to deliver the marijuana, but Abraham said she would refile that charge against Brough as well. She also said she would seek to have Brough's $150,000 bail revoked.
The August fire was sparked by a high-intensity light used to encourage healthy buds from nine pot plants inside a small wooden basement closet in Brough's rowhouse, prosecutor Ed Cameron said. The blaze quickly spread to the ceiling joists, billowing heavy smoke throughout the basement and up the stairs.
Taylor, 53, and Rubio, 42, died of smoke inhalation while trying to battle the flames. Brough was playing pool at a local bar when the fire broke out, according to his mother, who testified for the prosecution at the hearing.
Defense attorney Bill Cannon said yesterday he was disappointed with Abraham's decision.
"She's too good a lawyer not to know that the facts of this case would never support a charge of third-degree murder," he said. "Anyone objectively analyzing the facts of this case with the applicable law would know that Judge Deni made the correct decision yesterday in dismissing the two counts of murder."
Deni did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Brough's stepson testified that his dad was the one cultivating the pot plants as "an experiment for his personal use." In a statement to police, however, the 19-year-old said his father intended to sell the drug, Cameron said.
"By growing marijuana under grow lights and fans...he endangered his whole family," Abraham said.
The district attorney's appeal of Deni's decision will go before Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner.
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