Demolition contractor convicted of manslaughter over Philly building collapse that killed 6 people loses appeal
A contractor serving 15 to 30 years in prison for a building collapse in Philadelphia that killed six people and injured more than a dozen others failed to convince an appeals court to the state that he had not received a fair trial.
Instead, a Superior Court panel on Wednesday rejected Griffin Campbell’s claim that his attorney had conflicts of interest and that the prosecutor was at fault.
The result is that Campbell will remain behind bars for his six manslaughter convictions related to the June 2013 collapse of a masonry wall that collapsed on a Salvation Army thrift store.
Prosecutors claimed Campbell was responsible for the deaths and injuries because he was responsible for the demolition of a building next to the store in the 2100 block of Market Street. His demolition plan left the four-story masonry wall standing without support until it fell on the store.
Investigators claimed Campbell removed the support beams in violation of proper demolition practices so he could resell the material. A Philadelphia jury convicted Campbell after a trial in 2015.
In his unsuccessful appeal to the Superior Court, Campbell argued that his lawyer was ineffective in not opposing the prosecutor’s statements made to the jury vouching for the credibility of prosecution witnesses and seeking to promote sympathy for the people. killed and injured in the collapse.
Campbell also insisted his lawyer had conflicts of interest because the lawyer had visited the site several times before the collapse and had already represented two other defendants in the case. The lawyer represented one of the co-defendants in another criminal case and advised the other co-accused not to speak to OSHA investigators after the collapse, Campbell said.
Justice Carolyn H. Nichols dismissed Campbell’s conflicting claims in the Superior Court opinion dismissing her appeal. There is no evidence that there was an actual conflict that would have interfered with Campbell’s right to a fair trial, she concluded.
As for the prosecutor’s comments, they were made in response to attempts by the defense attorney to attack the credibility of prosecution witnesses and to build sympathy for Campbell, Nichols concluded.