Testimony wraps up in 'Black Sunday' trial

A retired firefighter who survived a 2005 blaze in the Bronx that killed two of his colleagues returned to the witness stand Friday to continue

THE BRONX - A retired firefighter who survived a 2005 blaze in the Bronx that killed two of his colleagues returned to the witness stand Friday to continue his testimony in the "Black Sunday" trial.

Eugene Stolowski told the jurors an illegal partition, erected by tenants inside one of the apartments to collect more rent, created a death trap by blocking the fire escape. As a result of the alleged partitions, six firefighters were forced to jump four stories to escape the flames. Stolowski and three of his co-workers survived, but Lt. Curtis Meyran and John Bellew were killed by the fall.

"People will think twice before doing what they do to their apartments for greed," Stolowski said.

Even after being forced to retire because of his injuries and suffering from emotional pain, Stolowski said he has no animosity toward the defendants, Cesar Rios, the building's landlord, and tenants Rafael Castillo and Caridad Coste.

"I'm not bitter toward anybody," he said. "I want justice served, and I want the people who did this to face the punishment."

The retired firefighter was the last witness for the prosecution. The defense did not call on anyone to testify. Closing arguments in the case are expected to get under way Monday.

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