Jury Deliberations Continue In Deadly 2015 East Village Gas Explosion – CBS New York
Moises Locon, who worked as a busboy at the restaurant Sushi Park, and customer Nicholas Figueroa were killed on March 26, 2015.
The building’s owner Maria Hrynenko, general contractor Dilber Kukic and unlicensed plumber Athanasios Ioannidis were all charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. They’re accused of running an illegal gas line into the building at 121 Second Avenue.
“What happened that day, a crime was committed,” Teresa Galarce-Garcia said. She was on a date with Figeueroa at Sushi Park when the blast occurred. “That could be my family, your family. That could be anyone’s family.”
Galarce-Garcia suffred a punctured lung, broken ribs and a broken nose, among other injuries.
“Some days I’ll go out and I’ll be sitting at a restaurant and I’m really cautious about a lot of things,” she said.
Families for the two victims have been a constant presence in court.
“It’s so hard because I thinking about my brother all the time. It’s too hard for me to stay here,” Locon’s brother said.
Closing arguments began in the case Tuesday. Defense attorneys showed pictures of a water heater from the basement seemingly intact to back their claim that the explosion happened in the kitchen of the sushi restaurant on the first floor, not the basement like prosecutors allege.
However, prosecutors argue the owner – who managed several buildings – had newly renovated apartments to lease but no gas service to them. Not wanting to miss out on rent, prosecutors say she leased them anyway, and the trio illegally tapped into one gas line to service tenants in another building.
The owner’s attorney said his client simply hired people to do work and knew nothing about an illegal gas line.
Hrynenko, Kukic and Ioannidis each face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of top counts.