By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The contractor who oversaw demolition at the site of the deadly 2013 building collapse, at 22nd and Market Streets apologized to the victims and their families, before he was sentenced Friday. The excavator operator who was with him on the job site also was sent to prison.
Before he was sentenced, Griffin Campbell told the judge he asked himself and God what to say to the families. In his words, “I asked God to touch their hearts and ease their pain.”
Surviving family members also gave victim impact statements, including an emotional recollection by Philadelphia City Treasurer Nancy Winkler of her 24-year-old daughter, Anne Bryan, one of the six victims who died.
Saying the “tragedy shocked the city to its core,” Judge Glenn Bronson then sentenced the 51-year-old Campbell to 15-30-years in prison. Prosecutors sought a 25-50-year prison term.
Assistant DA Jennifer Selber, Chief of the Homicide Unit, says Campbell repeatedly took shortcuts at the job site, “valuing money over safety.’
“And he was rolling the dice each time he made one of those decisions.”
At trial, the jury cleared Campbell of the most serious, third degree murder charges, but jurors convicted him on six counts of involuntary manslaughter. Jurors also convicted Campbell on multiple counts of recklessly endangering another person, aggravated assault and causing a catastrophe.
Defense lawyer William Hobson maintains Campbell was the fall guy for higher ups involved with the project who were not charged.
‘I don’t know if I’m in Philadelphia, Pa or Philadelphia, Mississippi, but the only two people convicted of this horrible tragedy had two things in common – they’re black and they’re from North Philly. Everybody who was white, whose got money and contacts got a pass.”
Campbell’s heavy equipment operator, Sean Benschop, who pleaded guilty to the same charges and testified at trial, received a sentence half as long as Campbell. His plea arrangement with prosecutors stipulated that he serve no more than 20-years in prison – and the judge sentenced him to 7 1/2 to 15-years in prison.
Campbell was offered but rejected the same plea arrangement.