Lesser bail rejected in Center City building collapse

September 17, 2013 2:52:38 PM PDT
A judge declined to reduce bail Tuesday for a heavy equipment operator charged in a building collapse that killed six people.

Prosecutors say 42-year-old Sean Benschop had marijuana and painkillers in his system and was impaired when the four-story building under demolition collapsed onto an adjacent thrift store in June.

Benschop, also known as Kary Roberts, is being held on $1.6 million bail on involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges, and a judge refused to reduce that amount during a preliminary hearing Tuesday. The proceedings were continued until Dec. 10 at the request of both the prosecution and the defense to allow further time for investigation.

Benschop's attorney has said he was fit to work that day and is being made a scapegoat in the collapse.

Besides the six killed, 13 people were injured when a brick wall that was being torn down collapsed on June 5, burying 19 people inside a one-story Salvation Army thrift shop next door. The city prosecutor has convened a grand jury to investigate whether anyone else should face criminal charges.

The week following the collapse, a building inspector who had visited the demolition site committed suicide.

Relatives of two people killed in the collapse have filed wrongful-death lawsuits. Some of the injured also have sued.


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