Philadelphia Demolition Contractor Charged with Murder in Deadly Building Collapse

Philadelphia demolition contractor Griffin T. Campbell faces six counts of third degree murder, six counts of involuntary manslaughter and 13 counts of recklessly endangering another person in connection with a building collapse that killed six people and injured 13.

Campbell is accused of ignoring safety advice, right up to the eve of the collapse.

On the morning of June 5, 2013, a four-story, free-standing brick wall that was part of a building Campbell Construction was demolishing crashed down on top of the Salvation Army Thrift Store next door. Shoppers and workers inside were buried in the debris.

The grand jury investigation, according to District Attorney Seth Williams, "places Campbell at the center of culpability."

Williams said demolition and construction experts testifying before the grand jury identified one appropriate way to take the building down. "The building should have been taken down by hand, piece by piece, brick by brick," Williams said.

Campbell is said to have removed key structural parts of the building from inside, using heavy machinery.

"He therefore chose to maximize his profits by first deciding to remove the joists, which were valuable for his resale." That left the walls without support, Williams said.

Campbell's attorney, William Hobson, said the collapse was a horrible, tragic accident, but that his client did nothing wrong.

"We will vigorously defend all these allegations and charges," Hobson said.

Campbell is the second person charged in the fatal collapse. During the first week of the investigation, prosecutors charged Sean Benschop, an excavator hired by Campbell, with six counts of involuntary manslaughter and 13 counts of reckless endangerment for his alleged role in the collapse.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed nearly $400,000 in penalties and issued construction safety citations to Campbell and Benschop.

(more on murder charges arising from a Philadelphia demolition collapse . . . )