Bail denied for building-collapse contractor

Posted: June 29, 2014

A JUDGE yesterday denied a motion seeking bail for Griffin Campbell, a demolition contractor awaiting trial on murder charges in last year's fatal Center City building collapse.

Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner said an amendment to Pennsylvania's Constitution denies him the authority to intervene when the possible sentence is life without parole or death.

"Courts are not free to make their own rules," Lerner told Campbell's attorney, William D. Hobson. "That binds me, Mr. Hobson."

Campbell, 50, is charged with six counts of third-degree murder, six counts of involuntary manslaughter and other offenses. He has been in jail since the District Attorney's Office filed the charges against him in late November.

He was the contractor overseeing demolition of a building next to a Salvation Army thrift store at 22nd and Market streets when a wall from the building fell onto the thrift shop June 5, 2013, killing six people and injuring 13 others.

Hobson yesterday asked the judge to put Campbell on house arrest. With a grand jury and civil matters ongoing, Hobson argued, Campbell could spend several years in jail before a trial begins.

"It's a sad case for all," Hobson said afterward. "It's a very sad case for the six families that lost loved ones, and I understand that. But locking up Griff Campbell for the rest of his life is not a solution."

Daine Grey, an attorney for Sean Benschop, 43, an excavator operator also charged with six counts of third-degree murder and other offenses in the collapse, appeared alongside Hobson during the hearing but did not file a motion.

Neither Campbell nor Benschop appeared in court yesterday. But Campbell's wife, mother, stepfather and more than a dozen other family members and longtime friends sat in the gallery to show support.

Both men face automatic life sentences if convicted.

On Twitter: @dylan_segelbaum

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