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Conspiracy Charge Upheld as Salvation Army Thrift Store Disaster Moves To Trial

By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A Philadelphia judge today rejected a defense motion to dismiss the conspiracy charge against two defendants in the deadly collapse of a center city demolition site one year ago.

Six people died and over a dozen were injured when a wall being demolished fell onto an adjacent Salvation Army thrift store at 22nd and Market Streets (see related stories).

As a result, defendants Griffin Campbell, the demolition contractor, and heavy equipment operator Sean Benschop face a long list of charges including murder.

The defense had challenged a charge of conspiracy, arguing there was not enough evidence of an agreement between the two men.

But today, the judge sided with an earlier court ruling that the evidence shows they acted together in a very risky, unbelievably dangerous manner, according to prosecutor Jennifer Selber.

"Namely, we are talking about leaving a freestanding, unsupported wall looming over the Salvation Army, and then using an enormous, heavy piece of equipment, rumbling around, causing  vibrations, and knocking into parts of the building,"  Selber argued.

Attorneys for both defendants deny the charges, and claim their clients are scapegoats for the actions of others.

The deadly collapse occurred exactly one year ago this Thursday, June 5th.


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