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A disgruntled legal opponent of prominent Dallas attorney has been arrested and charged with capital murder nearly six years after the lawyer was found dead in his burning garage.
Steven Benton Aubrey, 61, has been a prime focus for investigators since Ira Tobolowsky was found dead in 2016, but has denied any involvement in the murder. For years, Tobolowsky’s family accused him of killing the beloved patriarch. But an arrest hasn’t been made in years – until this week.
Aubrey was arrested Wednesday in Florida on a capital murder charge in connection with Tobolowsky’s death. He is being held at the Broward County Jail on $2 million bail and will be extradited back to Texas.
Authorities have not said what evidence finally prompted the arrest so many years after police initially questioned Aubrey in the case.
Tobolowsky, 68, was found dead in the burning garage of his North Dallas home on Kenshire Drive in May 2016.
An investigation revealed that Tobolowsky was on his way to work when he walked into his garage where Aubrey ambushed him, according to the charging documents. Police say Aubrey poured gasoline on Tobolowsky and set him on fire, leaving him to die in the garage inferno.
The Medical Examiner ruled Tobolowsky’s death a homicide as a result of thermal burns, smoke inhalation, and blunt force trauma.
For nearly six years, homicide detectives have conducted interviews and gathered evidence in the case.
Aubrey, who had been involved in a legal dispute with Tobolowsky, was questioned and even named a person of interest in the case, police said. Police also interviewed Aubrey’s partner Brian Vodicka and searched their homes, but they weren’t accused of a crime.
Vodicka was not arrested Wednesday and police have not accused him of any wrongdoing.
Steven Benton Aubrey, 61, has been a prime focus for investigators since the beginning, was arrested Wednesday and charged with capital murder in the 2016 death of Ira Tobolowsky
Ira Tobolowsky (pictured with one of his sons), a Dallas lawyer was found dead in his burning garage in 2016
Tobolowsky’s death was ruled a homicide from thermal burns, smoke inhalation and blunt force trauma
Police said in a press release Wednesday that Aubrey and Tobolowsky did in fact know each other, with Tobolowsky representing Aubrey’s mother in litigation against her son in 2014. Vodicka, a lawyer who was in a relationship with Aubrey, represented Aubrey.
Aubrey’s mother had cut him out of the will in 2012, believing he was unhinged, and suspecting he was the person who broke into her home to unleash rats, according to a D Magazine report from 2017.
As the legal battle continued, Tobolowsky filed a defamation suit against Aubrey and his partner over alleged threats and harassment.
He accused Aubrey of using ‘intentional lies, fraud, defamatory statements and ‘dirty tricks’ to get him to stop representing Aubrey’s mother and said that Vodicka attacked Tobolowsky’s integrity, the Dallas News reported.
Tobolowsky claimed that Aubrey called his fight with his brother and mother ‘jihad’ and compared Tobolowsky to ‘an ISIS butcher,’ the Dallas News reported.
So when the attorney’s body was found inside a garage doused with gasoline and set on fire, detectives zeroed in on Aubrey.
When the attorney’s body was found inside his garage doused with gasoline and set on fire, detectives zeroed in on Aubrey, who had been in a legal dispute with him
Mysterious: The attorney was discovered after firefighters extinguished the blaze at his $800,000 home in the north Dallas area (pictured). The county coroner’s office has not determined his cause of death
Detectives also searched Aubrey’s home and seized propane gas tanks and a power drill, according to a search warrant. Authorities believed someone had drilled holes in the fence to spy on Tobolowsky and track his schedule prior to the killing.
Both Aubrey and Vodicka were questioned in the case, but were released without being charged of any crime.
In November 2016, the detective on the case told one of Tobolowsky’s sons that his team had circumstantial evidence that Aubrey was involved in the incident but had nothing to prove that he was at Tobolowsky’s house on May 13, D Magazine reported.
Tobolowsky’s family has pushed for answers in the killing for years. Tobolowsky was a prominent, well-liked attorney who came from a prestigious Dallas family that has been active in the Jewish community and the legal profession, the Dallas News reported.
In 2019, his family offered a $25,000 reward for information about the lawyer’s death. They said he suffered from a lifelong chronic condition that caused him to be hunched over and made it difficult for him to walk, adding that he would have been unable to defend himself.
‘Our dad was always the guy who protected others,’ his son, Michael Tobolowsky, said in 2016. ‘We feel like it’s our turn to step up and do anything we possibly can to try to help the police find the information they need to find the person who did this to our dad.’
In a statement to KTVT, Michael said the arrest is ‘amazing news we have long waited for.’
Tobolowsky’s family has pushed for answers in the killing of their loved one for years