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Thread: Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse 1999 Fire Back To Court

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    Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse 1999 Fire Back To Court

    Supreme Judicial Court reinstates manslaughter charges in Worcester fire

    Wednesday, March 27, 2002



    WORCESTER-- The state Supreme Judicial Court has reinstated involuntary manslaughter charges against two former homeless people in connection with a 1999 warehouse fire that took the lives of six firefighters.
    In a unanimous decision released yesterday, the state's highest court reversed a Superior Court judge's ruling dismissing the charges against Thomas S. Levesque and Julie Ann King, formerly known as Julie Ann Barnes.
    Mr. Levesque and Miss King, who occasionally stayed in the vacant Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. building on Franklin Street where the Dec. 3, 1999 blaze occurred, were accused of failing to report the fire after accidentally starting it by knocking over a candle during an argument.
    In a Sept. 19, 2000 ruling, Superior Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman allowed a defense motion to dismiss the charges. Judge Hillman found that the evidence presented to the grand jury that indicted Mr. Levesque and Miss Barnes was insufficient to support the indictments.
    According to Judge Hillman's findings, the defendants had no legal duty to report the fire and their failure to act did not meet the standard of wanton and reckless conduct required for manslaughter charges.
    Acting on District Attorney John J. Conte's appeal, the SJC found that the evidence presented to the grand jury was sufficient to sustain the charges and overturned Judge Hillman's dismissals. The SJC remanded the case to Worcester Superior Court.


    Friday, March 29, 2002



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Copyright 2002 Worcester Telegram & Gazette Corp.

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    Firefighter Death Charges Reinstated

    Firefighter Death Charges Reinstated

    DENISE LAVOIE
    Associated Press Writer

    BOSTON, Massachusettes (AP) -- An appeals court reinstated involuntary manslaughter charges Friday against a homeless couple who allegedly sparked a fire in a Worcester warehouse that killed six firefighters.

    The decision overturns a lower court's ruling that dismissed the charges.

    Julie Ann Barnes and Thomas S. Levesque were indicted two months after the Dec. 3, 1999 blaze. Authorities said they accidentally sparked and fled the fire at the abandoned Worcester Cold Storage warehouse, and then failed to report it.

    As the fire grew, firefighters responded. Six were killed trying to rescue homeless people they thought might still be inside.

    Superior Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman dismissed charges against the couple in September 2000, ruling that prosecutors hadn't shown sufficient evidence. But the Supreme Judicial Court ruled Friday that the grand jury did have enough evidence for an indictment.

    ``The Commonwealth has presented sufficient evidence to allow a grand jury to conclude that the defendants' choice not to report the fire was intentional and reckless,'' the appeals court ruled.

    The court also said the defendants tried to put out the fire, which demonstrated they knew it was spreading rapidly. The court also noted they had a cellular phone and passed several stores after they fled from which they could have called for help.

    Attorney Edward Ryan, who represents Levesque, said he was disappointed by Friday's ruling. The case will now go to a circuit court.

    ``The Supreme Judicial Court has essentially said that the question of whether they are responsible or not is for the jury to determine at trial,'' Ryan said. ``This does not mean that they're automatically guilty of manslaughter.''

    Barnes, now known as Julie King, was adopted after the fire by the same family in Maine who adopted her sister, Jennifer. She now works full-time as a hotel housekeeper. She gave birth to a son, Joshua, while she was awaiting trial on the involuntary manslaughter charges.

    Her former boyfriend Levesque lives in Worcester and is currently unemployed, Ryan said.

    http://www.firehouse.com/news/2002/3/29_APdeat.html

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    TRIAL MAY BRING CLOSURE FOR FIREFIGHTERS FAMILIES

    Jury trial may bring closure to firefighters' families

    Saturday, March 30, 2002

    By Shaun Sutner
    Telegram & Gazette Staff


    WORCESTER-- George Yantsides remembers Thomas S. Levesque and Julie Ann King all too well from the days before the warehouse blaze that claimed the lives of six city firefighters.
    The bedraggled homeless couple were a familiar sight in the area. Mr. Levesque often got coffee at Mr. Yantsides' Kenmore Diner, next to the empty lot where the century-old building once stood. Miss King, formerly Julie Ann Barnes, would stay outside holding their cat.
    Now, Mr. Yantsides agrees with yesterday's court decision reinstating manslaughter charges against the pair, who accidentally started the fire in the vacant building in which they lived.

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