On May 2, as the manslaughter trial of three construction firm managers in the fatal Ground Zero building fire entered its fifth week, 28 prosecution witnesses had been called and 78 more were set to testify. Citing the potential for redundant and irrelevant testimony and noting that jurors appeared fatigued, New York State Supreme Court Judge Rena K. Uviller ordered the prosecution to cut its witness list and rest its case by May 31.
The Aug. 18, 2007, fire at the former Deutsche Bank building killed firefighters Robert Beddia and Joseph P. Graffagnino. In the trial of the defendants—Jeffrey Melofchik, former building safety manager for general contractor Bovis Lend Lease, New York City; and Mitchel Alvo and Salvatore DePaola, former asbestos- abatement supervisors for the now-defunct subcontractor John Galt Corp.—testimony from construction, fire department and other site witnesses has centered on a standpipe in the building's basement. Prosecutors say cutting the pipe stopped water flow to the blaze and asbestos-containment barriers blocked firefighter access. Abatement and demolition of the 40-story high-rise, damaged on 9/11, was completed in January.