Closing arguments in East Village gas explosion trial

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Wednesday, November 13, 2019
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The defense says it was just a tragic accident.

EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Closing arguments beganTuesday in the manslaughter trial stemming from the deadly 2015 gas explosion in the East Village.

The owner of the building, an unlicensed plumber, and a general contractor are accused of rigging an illegal gas line at the building on Second Avenue at 7th Street.

Two people died and 13 were injured in the fiery blast.

"Unbeknownst to the people who were walking down the street, driving down the street, there was a virtual bomb lurking under the East Village," Assistant District Attorney Randolph Clarke said in his opening statement.

The building owner, 59-year-old Maria Hrynenko, of Rockland; an unlicensed plumber, 63-year-old Athanasios Ioannidis, of Queens; and the general contractor, 44-year-old Dilber Kukic, of the Bronx; face manslaughter and other charges.

In all, three buildings collapsed and a fourth building was seriously damaged.

Sushi restaurant worker Moises Ismael Locon Yac and 23-year-old diner Nicholas Figueroa, who was on a date at the time, were killed.

"He was a beautiful, happy guy," dad Nixon Figueroa said. "I'm proud of having him as a son."

Officials found his body in the debris an agonizing three days later, and Nixon Figueroa, the state's first witness, described identifying his son's body and wanting to hug him one more time.

"He was a good kid," he said. "So I just want to say, I'm glad we're here and I'm going to take it step by step."

Locon Yac's brother had also testified.

"They called and said the bodies had never been found," he told jurors. "When we went to the area to see where my brother's body was, they told us we wouldn't recognize him."

Defense lawyers argued it was a tragic accident and their clients are not responsible.

EXCLUSIVE: Video shows moment of East Village explosion

RELATED: Crews reach basement in Manhattan building explosion clean-up-- EXCLUSIVE: Survivor of East Village explosion tells his story


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