Friday, December 16, 2016

Acquitted Of Manslaughter In Accidental Fire Resulting In Deaths Of Six Tenants Living In Prosecutor-Described Duplex "Death Traps", Rooming House Landlord Gets Three Months Jail Time On Related Misdemeanor Code Violation Conviction For Inadequate Means Of Escape From 3rd Floor Rooms

In Portland, Maine, The Associated Press reports:
  • The owner of a building in Maine where six people died in a fire following a Halloween party two years ago was sentenced [] to three months in jail for his misdemeanor conviction.

    Judge Thomas Warren also fined Gregory Nisbet $1,000. The sentence and fine come six weeks after the judge found Nisbet guilty of a code violation related to inadequate means of escape from third-floor rooms in his building. He was acquitted of his most serious charge, manslaughter.

    Prosecutors said the rooms he rented in the duplex in Portland were "death traps" for the people who died there after a fire broke out in 2014.

    Lisa Mazziotti, the mother of victim Nicole Finlay, said in court [] that she disagrees with Nisbet's acquittal of manslaughter charges but hopes his conviction and sentence for the code violation will make landlords aware of the consequences of dangerous apartments.

    "Landlords who knowingly allow these conditions to exist are going to kill someone," Mazziotti said. "Landlords all over the state are watching this case — will it underline the seriousness of the responsibility that falls on landlords?"
    ***
    The fire was determined to be accidental, blamed on improperly discarded smoking materials on a porch. It was the deadliest fire in Maine in four decades. Lawsuits stemming from the fire are still in the court system.

    The judge said a criminal penalty was warranted because three of the people who died would've had "some chance" if they'd been able to exit from the third floor.

    "This was a knowing violation of the code," he said.

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