After more than a week of jury selection, a panel of jurors has been chosen to hear a consolidated civil trial to determine if anyone should be held financially liable for a fatal building collapse on Market Street in June 2013 that caused the deaths of seven and injured a dozen.
The selection process for the 12 jurors and eight alternates was done in secret to avoid publicity or poisoning the jury pool. Presiding Common Pleas Court judge Teresa Sarmina has also imposed a gag order on all parties for the duration of the trial.
Opening statements will begin Monday in the civil suit targeting developer Richard Basciano of STB Investments, long known as New York's "king of porn" and the owner of the last adult movie theaters on Market Street; on-site demolition architect Plato A. Marinakos Jr., who was hired by Basciano; and the Salvation Army, which, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, opened the thrift store on the day of the collapse despite warnings emailed from Basciano's employees that the wall above the store was in danger of collapsing.
Also listed in the suit are Griffin Campbell, a demolition contractor hired by Marinakos, and Sean Benschop, who operated an excavator during the collapse. Both were found guilty and sent to prison earlier this year.
The trial is the consolidation of two dozen separate lawsuits filed on behalf of the victims and their families. It's expected to last several months.
A memorial to the victims is expected to be finished in 2017 at the intersection where the buildings came down.