Trial starts in deadly Deutsche Bank fire

April 4, 2011 3:23:17 PM PDT
Opening statements began Monday in the manslaughter trial involving the 2007 fire at the former Deutsche Bank building.

Two firefighters were killed, and prosecutors say construction workers are at fault.The defense is expected to argue that the state, city and missed safety inspections are the real reason Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino died.

"Listen, I want a roll call," a fire official said in tape transcripts from the 2007 fire. "Do we have a roll call finished up there? I don't give a [expletive] about the building. I give a [expletive] about the guys. Do we have a roll call? Do we know who's missing?"

The firefighters desperately worked to rescue their own as they battled flames at the former Deutsche Bank building.

But when it was all over, Beddia and Graffagnino were dead. Now, years later, the fight over who is to blame is intensifying.

Three construction supervisors and a subcontractor are charged with manslaughter, after prosecutors said the men's negligence led to the firefighters' deaths. Prosecutors say defendants Mitchel Alvo, Jeffrey Melofchik and Salvatore DePaola let a break in a crucial firefighting water pipe go unfixed and even took steps to conceal it.

However, reports indicate the defense will likely put the blame on the city, accusing it of creating unsafe conditions at the building. The defendants say they're small-time scapegoats for a fire fueled by others' mistakes.