A contractor goes on trial for murder on Wednesday for his role in the demolition of a Philadelphia building that triggered a neighboring store’s collapse and killed six people in June 2013.
Opening arguments were scheduled in the third-degree murder trial of Griffin Campbell, 51, who could receive a life prison sentence if convicted on more than one of the six murder charges.
Campbell and equipment operator Sean Benschop, 44, were the only people criminally charged in the collapse, which also injured 12 people.
Benschop pled guilty in July to six counts of involuntary manslaughter and other charges. Prosecutors said they would seek a prison sentence not to exceed 10 to 20 years for Benschop, who tested positive for marijuana.
Campbell rejected the same plea offer that Benschop accepted.
Prosecutors say Campbell was the “center of culpability” for the June 5, 2013 tragedy after winning the demolition contract with a rock-bottom bid that prompted him to cut corners.
Bricks and lumber from the century-old building fell onto the neighboring Salvation Army thrift store, killing four shoppers and two workers. About a dozen others were injured, including a woman who was trapped in rubble for more than 12 hours and had to have both legs amputated.
A few days after the collapse, the city inspector who had reported no problems on the job site fatally shot himself in the chest. While officials concluded the inspector was not responsible for the collapse, he left a video message for his wife and young son saying he “should have been more diligent” in overseeing the project.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Bill Trott)