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Closing Arguments Underway In East Village Gas Explosion Trial

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Closing arguments were underway Tuesday in the trial for the three defendants in the deadly 2015 East Village explosion.

Two people in the restaurant, busboy Moises Locon and Nicholas Figueroa, who was there on a date, were killed and more than a dozen were injured in the blast at 121 Second Ave.

There were three defense attorneys, one for each defendant, to hear from, as well as the prosecution, so closing arguments took most of the day, CBS2's Alice Gainer reported.

Landlord Maria Hrynenko, general contractor Dilber Kukic and unlicensed plumber Athanasios Ioannidis are charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

PHOTOSSecond Avenue Building Explosion

Prosecutors said an illegal secret gas line was to blame for the blast, calling it a "virtual bomb lurking underneath."

They argued Hrynenko, the owner of several buildings, had newly renovated apartments to lease but no gas to service them. Not wanting to miss out on rent, they said she leased them anyway and the three illegally tapped into one gas line to service the tenants in another building.

Hrynenko's lawyer said she hired people to do work and knows nothing about an illegal gas line.

Her attorney gave the first closing argument, saying prosecutors are missing evidence, including some piping and the main shut-off valve.

All three defense attorneys have argued the explosion happened in the kitchen of the sushi restaurant on the first floor, not the basement like prosecutors allege.

Family and friends of the defendants packed one side of the courtroom. On the other side were family members of those killed.

"I hope that the jury will decide these people's fate in the right way, you know, that they all go to jail for what they did," said Nixon Figueroa, whose son died in the explosion.

As for the defendants, they didn't say anything outside of court, Gainer reported.


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