Inspector: Partitions had role in 'Black Sunday' deaths

The 'Black Sunday' trial entered its ninth day Thursday, as a city building inspector testified that a Bronx building's illegal partitions didn't allow two firefighters

THE BRONX - The 'Black Sunday' trial entered its ninth day Thursday, as a city building inspector testified that a Bronx building's illegal partitions didn't allow two firefighters who plunged to their deaths access to fire escapes.

Ed Curtis told jurors at the Bronx County Hall of Justice the partitions violated two Department of Building codes. Curtis said under city law, all apartments have to have two fire exits.

According to Curtis, the illegal walls and extra bedrooms in the apartment of Caridad Coste - a defendant in the case - should never have been put up.

"There were remnants of a bed and other sleeping equipment in that room," he says. "That room should have been a dining room."

The defense tried to throw out the building inspector's case, but the judge ruled that he was an expert and kept his testimony on the record.

Coste, Cesar Rios, the former owner of the building, and tenant Rafael Castillo are charged with manslaughter for allegedly contributing to the deaths of Lt. Curtis Meyran and John Bellew by building illegal partitions in the East 178 Street building in 2005.

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