It will be more than two months before court proceedings continue in the criminal case tied to this summer’s deadly building collapse in Center City Philadelphia.
Tuesday’s preliminary hearing for Griffin Campbell and co-defendant Sean Benschop was rescheduled. The pair will now appear in court Feb.18.
Benschop, a backhoe operator, is facing six counts of involuntary manslaughter and related offenses, including criminal conspiracy. He was allegedly high on marijuana the day of the collapse.
Campbell, the site’s contractor, was charged with six counts of third-degree murder, six counts of involuntary manslaughter and other charges.
Following Tuesday’s brief court date, Campbell’s lawyer, William Hobson, said both men are scapegoats.
“I’m arguing that there’s no criminal culpability period for all defendants,” said Hobson. ” I’m arguing that there was selective prosecution. Look at who was charged and who wasn’t charged. Needless to say, Griff Campbell and Mr. Benschop are not members of the Union League.”
If anyone is to blame, argued Hobson, it’s Plato Marinakos, the Ivy League-educated architect who hired Campbell and acquired the demolition permits.
Marinakos was granted immunity from criminal prosecution in exchange for being a witness in the Philadelphia district attorney’s grand jury investigation of the collapse at 22nd and Market streets.
This argument is a change for Hobson. Previously he cast doubt on Benschop while claiming his client’s complete innocence.
Prosecutors denied Hobson’s claim that Marinakos got special treatment.
“These two men were charged based on the evidence and the case will be litigated based on the evidence on its merits, not based on social status or politics,” said Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Selber, who is prosecuting the case.
The DA’s ongoing probe determined that Campbell is at “the center of culpability” for, among other things, his decision not to demolish the building by hand, the more expensive, but proper approach.
Benschop and Campbell will await February’s preliminary hearing in prison. Neither is eligible for bail.
The building’s owner, Richard Basciano with STB Investments Corp., a commercial real-estate company, has not been criminally charged, but could be down the line.
Six people were killed and 14 more were injured on June 5 when a freestanding, four-story brick wall collapsed and crushed an adjoining Salvation Army Thrift Store during demolition.
One survivor lost her legs after being trapped beneath the rubble for nearly 13 hours.