A Brooklyn landlord has been charged with manslaughter for the death of a tenant who jumped out of a window to escape a fire prosecutors said was caused by a space heater in a building that did not have heat.
Evener Leon, 62, appeared in court Tuesday to be charged with second-degree manslaughter among other charges in the death of 70-year-old James Yves Lalanne on Dec. 2, 2019, the New York Daily News reported.
Prosecutors said Leon stopped paying for utilities like heat in a building he owned in the West Indian neighborhood of Flatbush in Brooklyn. He instead supplied his tenants living on the third floor in illegally divided rooms with hot plates and space heaters.
Fire marshals said the cord of a space heater on the second floor of the building where Leon lived with his family started a fire early in the morning. The blaze spread to the third floor, trapping Lalanne, a tenant, in a front room with no exit.
Eight adults and five children escaped through a fire escape on the back of the building, though many were treated for injuries from smoke inhalation, prosecutors said. Lalanne jumped from the third story window and died from the fall.
“This is an unfortunate incident,” Alain Massena, an attorney for Leon, told the newspaper. “Mr. Leon is a hard-working father and maintains his innocence, and will seek justice in the courts of law.”
The court ordered Leon released without bail. He has a hearing June 30 and could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.