Deliberations start in manslaughter trial of former Schenectady building inspector

March 05, 2018 06:43 PM

Closing arguments wrapped up in the trial of a Schenectady building inspector. Kenneth Tyree is charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. Prosecutors say he inspected a Jay Street building one day before a deadly fire and failed to take action on safety issues. However, the defense says Tyree wasn't certified at the time of the inspection.

The judge formally finished reading the charges to the jury Monday and they got ready to start deliberating. The defense started closing arguments Monday. Tyree's lawyer focused on the fact that he's a scapegoat and in this case, he wasn't trained to look at the fire alarm panel at the building on Jay Street and that he thought it was being monitored by a third party.

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Defense attorney Mark Gaylord says Tyree is being blamed for other people's negligence. He said several people had a role in making sure everything worked properly in that building, and it shouldn't fall on just Tyree. He then goes on to say when Tyree did look at the fire alarm panel the day before the fire, every light on the panel illuminated except for the light that should light up to indicate there's a problem.

Gaylord says Tyree had no duty to inspect the panel, he was a building inspector.

Finally, the defense points out that Tyree thought the alarm system was being monitored by a third party and he didn't see an imminent risk of a fire after he left the inspection that day.

However, the prosecution argued three points on why Tyree is responsible for the deaths of the four people. They include the duration of his inspection in March 2015, his statement on the condition of smoke alarms in the building and how Tyree gave a misrepresentation of what he saw on that fire panel.

The prosecution says data showed the fire panel had warning signs on it and Tyree should have reported to someone there may be a problem or had the residents vacate the building knowing there was a problem.

The jury will be looking at both manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges. It really comes down the jury deciding if Tyree's recklessness caused the death of these people or there is blameworthy conduct.


WNYT Staff

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