NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Three people charged in the deadly 2015 East Village gas explosion that left two people dead and more than a dozen injured have been found guilty by a jury.
They were accused of running an illegal gas line into the building at 121 Second Avenue.
All three have been found guilty of second-degree manslaughter, and second and third-degree assault, among other charges. The defendants are expected to be sentenced on January 10, 2020.
“No matter what it’s not going to bring him back,” said Anna Lanza, Nicholas Figueroa’s mom. “I’m extremely happy that we got the justice we wanted.
“Hopefully everybody who sees this, especially the landlords, will know they can’t get away with this and they won’t do it,” she said. “They’re guilty on every single charge. Every one of them.”
“What happened that day, a crime was committed,” Teresa Galarce-Garcia said. She was on a date with Figeueroa at Sushi Park when the blast occurred. “That could be my family, your family. That could be anyone’s family.”
Galarce-Garcia suffred a punctured lung, broken ribs and a broken nose, among other injuries.
“Some days I’ll go out and I’ll be sitting at a restaurant and I’m really cautious about a lot of things,” she said.
Families for the two victims have been a constant presence in court.
Lanza says justice doesn’t come without emotion for everyone involved.
“It’s hard to see,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to go to jail but if they did something wrong they have to pay for it and I really feel sorry for her daughters because they’re in there crying and I’m a mother but I lost my son.”
“It’s so hard because I thinking about my brother all the time. It’s too hard for me to stay here,” Locon’s brother said.
Closing arguments began in the case Tuesday. Defense attorneys showed pictures of a water heater from the basement seemingly intact to back their claim that the explosion happened in the kitchen of the sushi restaurant on the first floor, not the basement like prosecutors allege.
However, prosecutors argue the owner – who managed several buildings – had newly renovated apartments to lease but no gas service to them. Not wanting to miss out on rent, prosecutors say she leased them anyway, and the trio illegally tapped into one gas line to service tenants in another building.
The owner’s attorney said his client simply hired people to do work and knew nothing about an illegal gas line.
Hrynenko, Kukic and Ioannidis each face up to 15 years in prison..