By Tony Hanson and Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia judge has turned down a defense motion for bail in the fatal collapse last year of a center city building under demolition. Six people died when a wall of the building fell onto a Salvation Army thrift store next door (see related stories).
The contractor charged in the deadly center city building collapse will remain behind bars awaiting trial on murder charges, following a judge’s ruling that he did not qualify for bail and would be be not be released on “house arrest.”
The attorney for contractor Griffin Campbell, who surrendered last November, had sought to get him out from behind bars.
“My client is not the Market Street Murderer,” stated attorney William Hobson, following the hearing at the Criminal Justice Center.
“They are looking for the bogeyman and it’s not Griffin Campbell.”
But Judge Benjamin Lerner agreed with prosecutor Jennifer Selber that Campbell is not entitled to bail, explaining that because Campbell faced a mandatory life sentence, if convicted of multiple counts of 3rd degree murder, and state law did not permit him to set bail.
A second suspect, Sean Benschop, who worked for Campbell and allegedly operated heavy equipment under the influence of marijuana, is also being held without bail on murder charges.
“Both defendants are charged with six counts of third-degree murder apiece,” she notes. “If they are convicted of more than one, it is a mandatory life sentence. And the Pennsylvania Constitution provides that if you are facing that maximum sentence of life, you are not bailable — you are not entitled to bail — and the judge can’t give you bail under the law.”
It’s expected to be between one and two years before the two suspects stand trial.
Meanwhile, an investigating grand jury, now in its second year, is still meeting and has yet to issue its final report on the deadly collapse.
Campbell and co-defendant Benschop have pleaded not guilty.