Building superintendent testifies at 'Black Sunday' trial

The superintendent of the Bronx building that caught fire in 2005, resulting in the deaths of two New York City firefighters, took the witness stand

THE BRONX - The superintendent of the Bronx building that caught fire in 2005, resulting in the deaths of two New York City firefighters, took the witness stand Saturday at the ?Black Sunday? trial.

Prosecutors questioned Rafael Rodriguez about his knowledge of the existence of an illegal partition in apartment 4L that allegedly prevented Lt. Curtis Meyran and John Bellew from escaping the burning building, forcing them to jump to their deaths.

After initially saying he does not remember the partition, Rodriguez eventually admitted that he painted the illegal structure inside the apartment of Caridad Coste a year and a half before the incident.

Coste?s attorney, Francisco Knipping, insists his client was not present at the apartment when the illegal partition was erected.

?I understand the partition was built in the daytime, and she wasn't ever in the apartment,? Knipping says.

Last week, an investigator for the Department of Buildings testified that he discovered studs and two-by-fours from the partition when he entered the apartment after the fire.

The defense argues that even if the illegal partition was put in place, it did not contribute to the firefighters? deaths.

Coste, Rafael Castillo, and Cesar Rios, the building's landlord, face manslaughter charges in connection to the 2005 fire.

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