A 61-year-old man arrested in Florida last month on a capital murder charge in the 2016 slaying of prominent Dallas attorney Ira Tobolowsky has now been indicted in the case.
Steven Aubrey was booked into the Broward County Jail in April after being accused of Tobolowsky's 2016 murder. The 68-year-old attorney was killed in what was ruled an arson fire in the garage of his home.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by NBC 5, at about 7:45 a.m. on May 13, 2016, Tobolowsky was preparing to leave for work from his home on Kenshire Drive in Dallas when he was assaulted.
In the arresting document, police said Aubrey attacked Tobolowsky and then doused him in gasoline and set him on fire with a torch, causing his death. The medical examiner said Tobolowsky's cause of death was thermal burns and smoke inhalation but that he also had a fracture and separation of the cervical spinal column and fractures of the left clavicle and multiple ribs.
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Tobolowsky, according to the affidavit, suffered from a previous spinal condition that caused him to move slowly, hunch his shoulders, struggle to lift his arms above his chest and struggle to turn his neck.
POSSIBLE MOTIVE OUTLINED IN AFFIDAVIT
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According to the arrest warrant, Betsy Aubrey, Steven's mother, removed him as a beneficiary of her estate in 2013 which resulted in a number of court filings between the mother and son.
Tobolowsky represented Steven's mother in the cases against her son.
Steven, who was living in Austin at the time, was not doing well in the cases against his mother and, according to the affidavit, directed his anger toward her attorney by sending anti-Semitic emails and creating bogus web pages with defamatory blogs and doctored photographs. Tobolowsky ended up filing a defamation suit against Steven Aubrey in July 2015.
The affidavit said in February 2016 Aubrey had been "financially devastated" by failed business ventures and moved back to Dallas. At the same time, he was also written out of his inheritance which resulted in a loss of between $900,000 and $1.6 million, and he was ordered to pay his mother $250,000 in sanctions.
As the defamation case moved forward, Aubrey denied a majority of the evidence presented during a deposition in March. The next month, his spouse, Brian Vodicka, "was incoherent and appeared to be heavily medicated" during his deposition for the case. The deposition escalated to the point that Tobolowsky threatened to call the police if Aubrey and Vodicka did not leave the location.
The next month, Tobolowsky was killed in his garage.
INVESTIGATION INTO STEVEN AUBREY
Following Tobolowsky's death, Aubrey quickly became a person of interest in the case and declined to speak with detectives who noted he had what looked like a healing burn on his hands and lower arms.
Aubrey eventually consented to have his vehicle, phone and computer searched by police.
After a search warrant was served at his apartment, a computer was seized from Aubrey and Vodicka's Dallas apartment that officials said showed it "to be in the process of erasing data." Police also found searches for Tobolowsky's home and work addresses, his synagogue, and other searches for "Walmart tracfone," "burner phone" and "alibi definition."
A search of his apartment revealed propane torches and clothing with flammable residue in the fibers.
Aubrey and Vodicka moved to Florida in November 2016 and, according to the affidavit, little new evidence was gathered.
In July 2021 the case was reassigned and the evidence was again reviewed, this time leading to Aubrey's arrest in Florida. Aubrey will be extradited back to Texas, police said.