The following is a transcript of Portland landlord Gregory Nisbet’s testimony Thursday in Cumberland County Superior Court:

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity for me to speak today.

I’d like to start by saying how truly sorry I am that we are all sitting here today.

I have been suffering deeply with grief and sorrow every moment since I received the call from the fire department that fateful day.

I can’t count how many times I’ve wanted to reach out to all of the families to express my extreme anguish during this process, but unfortunately this process does not allow for that.

I can only imagine the pain and the hell that you go through every single day. I myself cry and mourn daily the loss of those young lives. I mourn for their parents and their children, for their friends and for their loved ones.

The relationship I had with them transcended the traditional landlord-tenant relationship. I knew them. I knew and felt their struggles. We had unwritten understandings about many things.


I knew Dave. I knew Nikki. And I knew Ashley. We had built a bond. We communicated and interacted personally on a very regular basis.

I didn’t know Steven, or Chris, or Maelisha, but I have interacted with many of the friends and acquaintances that frequented that house. I didn’t know them personally, but I knew them.

It very easily could have been my son. Or my niece who hung out with them a lot and was actually there that night. Or it could have been any other of the countless wonderful, beautiful people who have passed through those doors on so many occasions.

But it wasn’t. It was your sons. Your daughters. Your brothers. Your sisters. Your husband. Your daughters’ father and your friend.

And I am here today to accept the verdict of the court and accept responsibility for my actions or inactions.

The not-guilty verdicts that I received were not something that I celebrated. I was relieved and thankful, but it was not a victory. There are no winners here. Nothing will wipe the memory of this tragedy from my mind for as long as I live.

We have all suffered in our own way. You have suffered. My family has suffered. And the community has suffered.

The eyes of landlords, tenants and code enforcement officers alike have been opened across the city, the state and possibly across the country to the fact that we need to be more aware of our surroundings and speak up and act if there is something that needs to be addressed or made better.

There’s no question that a landlord’s responsibility goes beyond what is required by codes and ordinances. It is more than a transaction of rent for shelter. And my only hope is that somehow, in someway lives will be saved by the awareness that we’ve all experienced from this horribly tragic event.

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