Jury selection in Center City building collapse trial begins Tuesday

 Griffin T. Campbell, inset, is the contractor hired to demolish the building that collapsed at 22nd and Market streets in Philadelphia. (NewsWorks photo, file)

Griffin T. Campbell, inset, is the contractor hired to demolish the building that collapsed at 22nd and Market streets in Philadelphia. (NewsWorks photo, file)

Jury selection is scheduled to start Tuesday in the murder trial of Griffin Campbell, the general contractor charged in connection to a deadly building collapse in Center City Philadelphia in June 2013.

Prosecutors argue that Campbell, 51, knowingly put lives at risk by cutting corners while demolishing a four-story building at 22nd and Market streets.

Campbell allegedly let an unsupported wall stand, even after the site’s architect ordered him to remedy the safety hazard during a visit the night before the collapse. The wall pancaked onto a busy Salvation Army Thrift Store the next morning, killing six people and injuring several others.

Bill Hobson, Campbell’s lawyer, has repeatedly called his client a scapegoat. He is one of two people who were arrested after the collapse.

Richard Basciano, who owned the building, has not been criminally charged.

Plato Marinakos, the architect, was granted immunity from criminal prosecution in exchange for being a witness in the Philadelphia district attorney’s grand jury investigation of the collapse.

Campbell’s trial is expected to last four weeks.

Prosecutors offered him a plea deal that would have dropped the six counts of third-degree murder filed against him. He rejected the deal and could now face life in prison.

Campbell is also charged with involuntary manslaughter, recklessly endangering another person and aggravated assault.

In July, excavator operator Sean Benschop, Campbell’s co-defendant, pleaded guilty to chargers of involuntary manslaughter and other offenses. Under his plea deal, Benschop, 41, has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and could testify against his former boss.

Benschop is expected to serve 10 to 20 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 23.

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