THE BRONX - Closing arguments were presented Monday in the ?Black Sunday? trial of two tenants connected to the 2005 deaths of Lt. Curtis Meyran and firefighter John Bellew.
According to the Bronx district attorney, tenants Rafael Castillo and Caridad Coste erected illegal partitions inside apartments at the building on East 178th Street in order to get more rent. The prosecutor said that on the day of the fire, the partition blocked the fire escape, hid the fire and funneled the flames, which prevented Meyran and Bellew from safely escaping the blaze.
The defense claims that faulty equipment, like frozen hydrants, kinked hoses and a lack of safety ropes, is to blame for the firefighters? deadly jump from the fourth floor of the burning building.
Castillo and Coste are charged with two counts of second-degree manslaughter, two counts of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment. The building owner and landlord face the same charges in a separate trial. If convicted, Castillo and Coste could spend 15 years behind bars.
Jury deliberations began in the tenants? trial Monday. Closing arguments are set to be presented in the building owner and landlord?s trial Tuesday.
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