PHILADELPHIA – A jury deadlocked Wednesday and a mistrial was declared for the owner and operator of a pier that collapsed into the Delaware River more than six years ago, killing three nightclub patrons and injuring 43.
Asbell and Karetny were charged with conspiracy, involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and risking a catastrophe.
Prosecutors maintained that Asbell and Karetny knew the pier was likely to collapse, but allowed a nightclub atop the pier to open anyway on May 18, 2000. The defense said the two were not warned and the collapse was the fault of engineers who trying to shift blame away from themselves.
The collapse killed Monica Rodriguez, 21, and Jean Marie Ferraro, 27, both of Cherry Hill, N.J., and DeAnn White, 25, of Philadelphia. The women, who worked across the river at the New Jersey State Aquarium in Camden, were celebrating White's upcoming birthday and Rodriguez's first day on the job.
White's family called the outcome disappointing and frustrating.
"Today's decision is by no means a declaration of innocence. We believe these gentlemen are guilty," the family said in a statement. "We pray that the next jury is able to more clearly see and understand the facts that are presented — facts that we believe were clearly presented this time."
Prosecutors plan to pursue the same charges in a second trial.
In a $29.6 million settlement, the families of the three women killed in the collapse each collected $7.4 million. Those injured also shared in the proceeds.