Tuesday, November 12, 2019

[Updated] Closing arguments expected to start today in the 2nd Avenue gas explosion trial

[Aerial photo of 119-123 2nd Ave. from March 27, 2015]

Closing arguments are expecting to begin today in the Second Avenue gas explosion trial, WABC-7 reports.

The trial, which started on Sept. 9 in Manhattan Supreme Court, was expected to last three months.

Maria Hrynenko, contractor Dilber Kukic and unlicensed plumber Jerry Ioannidis are standing trial on a variety of charges, including manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide for the March 2015 explosion at 121 Second Ave. that killed two men and injured nearly two dozen people.

They illegally tampered with the gas line at No. 121, where the restaurant Sushi Park was the retail tenant, then failed to warn those in the building before the blast, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

"Unbeknownst to the people who were walking down the street, driving down the street, there was a virtual bomb lurking under the East Village," Assistant District Attorney Randolph Clarke said in his opening statement.

The defense has attempted to shift the blame away from the three, putting the responsibility on Con Edison and others.

Here's part of a trial preview from the Times from Sept. 9:

Under New York law, prosecutors will have to prove that Ms. Hrynenko, Mr. Kukic and Mr. Ioannidis were aware that they were acting recklessly, and disregarded the potential risk of death to others. Prosecutors would also have to show that the risks were not something that a reasonable person would have ignored.

“Being aware of a substantial risk would seem to be inconsistent with maintaining their property and obtaining tenants, making it challenging to prove that level of reckless intent,” said Kevin McCarthy, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who previously worked as a federal prosecutor in New Jersey and an assistant district attorney in Manhattan.

Updated 8 p.m.

Attorneys for the defense made their closing arguments today. Per CBS New York:

Hrynenko’s lawyer said she hired people to do work and knows nothing about an illegal gas line.

Her attorney gave the first closing argument, saying prosecutors are missing evidence, including some piping and the main shut-off valve.

All three defense attorneys have argued the explosion happened in the kitchen of the sushi restaurant on the first floor, not the basement like prosecutors allege.

Family and friends of the defendants packed one side of the courtroom. On the other side were family members of those killed.

“I hope that the jury will decide these people’s fate in the right way, you know, that they all go to jail for what they did,” said Nixon Figueroa, whose son died in the explosion.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Updated: 2nd Ave. explosion — landlord, 3 others charged with 2nd degree manslaughter; showed 'a blatant and callous disregard for human life'

RIP Nicholas Figueroa

RIP Moises Ismael Locón Yac

A family continues to feel the loss on 2nd Avenue

Exclusive: 2nd Avenue explosion sites have a new owner

Dedicating Moises Locón Way and Nicholas Figueroa Way on 2nd Avenue at 7th Street

Jury selection starts for defendants in 2nd Avenue gas explosion that killed 2 men

Day 1 recap of the 2nd Avenue gas explosion trial; opening statements and emotional testimony from Nicholas Figueroa's father


Brian Van said...

That comment from the law professor is absurd.

Is it really that hard to show that tampering with gas lines is a reckless activity that most reasonable people wouldn't do?

Billsville said...

It’s not an all or nothing situation. Maria Hrynenko faces almost two dozen charges, so if they don’t prove reckless intent the jury can convict on the lesser charges. Either way she needs to go to jail.

KeyFood4Eva said...

If for whatever reason, these three POS' get off scott free, I hope Con Edison ties them up in so many legal fees that they declare bankruptcy and have all their assets seized.

Giovanni said...

The manslaughter charges may be hard to prove, but a jury might settle on criminally negligent homicide which could be what sends Hrynenko away for a long time. Otherwise the assault charges are the fallback, but she might only get a couple of years on those, or maybe just probation. The rich usually get a different brand of justice than everyone else. Let's hope this case is so egregious and the facts are so strong that the jury does its duty and delivers justice.

Anonymous said...

He's got the resume so, I don't know, maybe the law itself is structured to protect the landlords.


Anonymous said...

I just hope that all three of the defendants are found guilty of either all or at least most of the charges against them and are sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Justice must be served in this case!!

Anonymous said...

Im pretty sure that criminally negligent homicide is a class E felony. She could get 1-4 years. Does she have any prior record? If not she might get 2-3 and be out in 18 months. Or she could get 1 year. There are lots of factors. Remember that criminal justice 'reform' in NY means less punishment and less jail time regardless of the crime or how unpopular the defendant is.