Judge rules against bid for separate trials for 2 charged in Philadelphia building collapse

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PHILADELPHIA — A judge has denied a defense request for separate trials for two men charged in last year's Philadelphia building collapse that killed six people inside a thrift store.

Fifty-year-old demolition contractor Griffin Campbell and 43-year-old subcontractor Sean Benschop are charged with third-degree murder in the June 2013 collapse.

Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner on Tuesday rejected defense arguments that trying the two together would force one to incriminate the other. He agreed with prosecutors that separate trials would burden victims, relatives and other witnesses who would have to testify twice.

The judge did, however, agree to bar prosecutors from using some comments Benschop made to a federal workplace safety investigator days after a wall of a building being demolished collapsed onto a Salvation Army thrift store.

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