GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A Gwinnett County father will not be charged in the deadly house fire that left his wife and two daughters dead last year.
Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter held a news conference Friday morning where he announced there is not enough evidence to charge Brent Patterson with arson or for the resulting deaths of his wife, Kathy Patterson, and daughters, Madelyn and Kayla.
"At this time we do not have enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Brent Patterson intentionally set the fire," Porter said. "We are going to have to close our investigation."
Porter said his office gathered reports from experts, both structural engineering and operational housing systems, and once that was completed, the entire file was reviewed by two arson experts. As a result, the District Attorney's Office reached several conclusions.
"We can agree the fire is of human origin," Porter said. “We also agree that as far as Brent Patterson’s second statement where he told authorities that he came downstairs and the house was fully involved in fire and that he ran outside, that is not consistent with the physical evidence.”
Porter said there is a lack of consensus amongst the experts and his investigators as to whether Patterson's first statement is consistent as to how the fire grew.
In Patterson's first statement, he told authorities he came downstairs to find smoke. He ran outside and said that's when the house exploded into flames. At that point, Patterson said he went around the house, breaking the windows, and tried to break the back door to rescue his family.
"That would be possibly, according to some of the experts, a way in which this fire could have exploded into flames and spread as quickly as he did," Porter said. "So, based on that, and based on the legal principal that in a circumstantial evidence case the state must exclude all possibilities except that of guilt, we have reached the conclusion that at this time we do not have enough evidence."
The fire happened a little over a year ago, on February 15, 2016, at the family's Pointer Ridge home, which is near Tucker.
Last July, the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s Office said the deaths were accidental, caused by smoke and soot inhalation.
The Patterson girls and their mother were active members of the Tucker First United Methodist Church, which is where their funeral was held.
“Kathy was a passionate mother and loved to dance. She was just a joy to be around. And those girls hugged everyone who came to church on Sundays. It won't be the same without them," said church member and friend Laurie Golding.
Golding said Kathy Patterson was a devoted mother, and had a passion to minister to the church through praise dancing.
"The girls were her whole life and she was full of life," Golding said. "She's now dancing in heaven with the girls."