November 26, 2013

Philadelphia contractor charged with murder after building collapse

The accident in June killed six people.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

PHILADELPHIA — The demolition contractor in June’s disastrous collapse of a Philadelphia building has been charged with six counts of third-degree murder, District Attorney Seth Williams announced Monday.

Williams said Griffin Campbell was “motivated by greed” – trying to maximize the salvage value of building materials – and elected not to use the safe but more labor-intensive way of razing the building at 2136 Market St.

An unsupported wall of the four-story building toppled on June 5, flattening the roof of the adjacent Salvation Army thrift store and crushing six people. Thirteen others were injured.

Williams said an investigating grand jury is still looking into the collapse and other people could be charged.

That news encouraged Jay Bryan, whose daughter Anne, 24, was one of the six killed.

“I think there are more responsible parties that need to be brought to justice, and I hope they are,” said Bryan. “We think, frankly, that the responsibility goes to the owner to be shared with the contractor.”

Property owner Richard Basciano, of STB Investments Corp., was razing a series of buildings in that block for a proposed development of apartments and retail stores. According to the grand jury presentment, Basciano had owned the properties since 1994.

In addition to third-degree murder, Campbell was charged with six counts of involuntary manslaughter, 13 counts of reckless endangerment, causing and risking a catastrophe and criminal conspiracy.

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