Indianapolis teacher Gwen Kirch may testify against her son, Thomas Kirch, in a 2007 fatal arson

Thomas Kirch expected to stand trial Monday

INDIANAPOLIS - A woman no longer facing charges in a 2007 arson that killed her husband may testify against her son in the case.

Gwen Kirch, 64, a music teacher at St. Pius X Catholic School, and her son, Thomas Kirch, 27, were each charged in 2011 with three counts of arson resulting in serious injury or death and one count of conspiracy to commit arson.

David Kirch, Gwen's husband and Thomas' father, died in a fire in the couple's home in the 7000 block of Eastwick Lane.

Charges were dropped Tuesday against Gwen Kirch, and prosecutors have now indicated they intend to call her as a witness in her son's trial, which is set to begin Monday.

Court documents indicate that investigators found gasoline containers from the garage and that accelerant was poured on the stairs and in several rooms. Evidence was also gathered from a computer that was damaged in the fire.

Well-known defense attorney Jack Crawford, who is not involved in the case, is wary of the prosecution's move. 

"That's a very dangerous tactic to force a mother to testify in a criminal case against her son. By the prosecutor doing that, they are on dangerous ground," he said. "They can make her testify, but they have to give her immunity from prosecution. She was charged in this offense. So before she gets on the witness stand, I'm sure her lawyer is going to tell her to take the 5th Amendment, unless they give her immunity from prosecution."

Gwen Kirch has been on paid administrative leave from her job at St. Pius. Thomas Kirch, who had been serving with the military overseas last year, has been stationed at Fort Knox, Ky., while awaiting trial.

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