Defense rests in Tyree Trial

March 01, 2018 06:43 PM

SCHENECTADY - Three years ago this week, in March 2015, the day before a raging inferno killed four people inside the adjacent five-story buildings on Jay Street in Schenectady, city building inspector Kenneth Tyree was sent to inspect 104 Jay Street.

"The people that died, I might have been the last person that ever talked to them, so I feel bad," Tyree stated at the conclusion of trial testimony on Thursday.

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Contributing to the tragedy, authorities say, was an alarm system that didn't work and the stairwell fire doors that didn't exist.

Tyree, who is facing manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges, testified that he should never have been the person to inspect the property in the first place, admitting on the witness stand that, "I had no clue what I was looking at."

He also said to his boss, "I never inspected a big building alone and I'm nervous about it."

Then he said, "When people told me to reset the alarm system, I didn't know what that meant."

"As far as his testimony goes, I thought he said what needed to be said," Tyree's attorney, Mark Gaylord, stated.

In addition, prosecutor Michael DeMatteo got Tyree to talk about the city job application he filled out, on which he checked the box indicating a clean criminal history. As it turns out, Tyree had been convicted of two felonies several decades ago.

Even though Tyree initially testified that he inspected all 18 apartments at 104 Jay Street, a police interrogation video indicated otherwise, and so when DeMatteo asked Tyree a second time if he had inspected every apartment, he was forced to answer, "Obviously no."

Closing arguments are scheduled for 10:00 Friday morning.


Dan Levy

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