Demo contractor goes on trial for building collapse deaths

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A contractor has gone on trial for murder in the deaths of six people killed when a building being demolished collapsed on a Philadelphia thrift store.

In opening statements Wednesday, a defense attorney painted Griffin Campbell as a scapegoat in the June 2013 deaths. Lawyer William Hobson accuses the city of lax oversight of demolition work.

Investigators say Campbell left a towering brick wall unsupported before it crashed down on the store, burying shoppers and workers in rubble. They say he had removed support beams to sell them for salvage.

A subcontractor has pleaded guilty to six counts of involuntary manslaughter. The 51-year-old Campbell rejected the same offer and faces third-degree murder charges.

The architect who accepted Campbell's cut-rate bid has been granted immunity for his testimony.

The trial is expected to last a month.