Reporting Juliet Papa
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A judge is estimating it will take four months to conduct a manslaughter trial surrounding the deaths of two firefighters in a blaze at a condemned ground zero skyscraper.
Propective jurors groaned during the selection process Monday as the judge told them how long the trial could last. Only 18 of 130 people said they would be willing to participate.
1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa with details of the case
The trial stems from the August 2007 fire at the former Deutsche Bank building. A construction company foreman, two supervisors and a company that employed two of the men have pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors say the men didn’t fix and covered up a major break in a crucial firefighting water pipe. The men say they’re scapegoats for regulators’ mistakes.
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One of the men and the company have said they want their cases decided by a judge, not a jury. But a jury is to decide the other men’s cases after one trial for all the defendants.
The building was irreparably damaged when the falling south tower of the World Trade Center ripped a 15-story gash into the 41-story building on Sept. 11, 2001. The impact heavily damaged the bank building and filled it with toxic debris. A laborious process of dismantling the now government-owned building has taken years.
On Aug. 18, 2007, a construction worker’s discarded cigarette sparked a fire that tore through several stories of the building. Firefighters Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino became trapped on the burning 14th floor and died of smoke inhalation after their oxygen tanks ran out.
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