PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Use of the Noyes Street building, where six people died in a fire nearly two years ago, was the focus of testimony today in landlord Gregory Nisbet’s trial.
Nisbet is charged with 6-counts of manslaughter. The state is trying to prove that Nisbet is accountable for the deaths of his tenants. The state contends three victims became trapped on the third floor because there was no way to escape.
How the building was being used is a major factor in the trial. The defense claims it was being used as a single family home, which has the least safety requirements. The state claims it was a rooming house, which requires more fire safety measures.
An inspector from the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Rick McCarthy, testified investigators determined the building was being used a rooming or lodging house. Under that designation, four deficiencies were found. There was no secondary means of escape because the windows were too small. The stairway did not have self-closing doors to prevent the spread of fire. There was no pull fire alarm system with flashing lights and beeping sounds and smoke detectors were missing or disconnected.
Investigators determined it was a rooming house based on the following... the number of occupants, locks placed on doors, tenants were individually paying the landlord and the tenants did not sign a lease.
There is no jury hearing this case, the defense opted to have the judge, Justice Thomas Warren, decide the case.