Troubled Landlord Will Not Face Felony Charges

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Pamela Francisco holds a picture of her daughter, Jerrica, and grandson, Dashawn, who both died Christmas Eve in a house fire. Pamela's family wants the landlord to face felony charges. But prosecutors are not perusing them based on evidence.(Photo: Mandie Trimble, WOSU News Reporter)
Pamela Francisco holds a picture of her daughter, Jerrica, and grandson, Dashawn, who both died Christmas Eve in a house fire. Pamela's family wants the landlord to face felony charges. But prosecutors are not perusing them based on evidence.(Photo: Mandie Trimble, WOSU News Reporter)

The troubled landlord whose rental home burned in December killing three people appeared in court again Tuesday. This time he pleaded not guilty to nearly two dozen building code violations. WOSU reports the victims’ family wants felony charges.

Jerrica Francisco and her four-year-old son, DaShawn, died Christmas Eve along with Demetrius Chappel after the house they were renting caught fire. A space heater they were using to keeping warm sparked the blaze.

Francisco’s family wants the 72-year-old landlord, Sam Vazirani, to face felony charges for their deaths.

Jerry Moss is Francisco’s brother.

“He moved them into an unstable living condition, and they died because it was unstable to live in. And he should be charged with reckless homicide,” Moss said.

Instead, the most jail time Vazirani could receive is 18 months.

Bill Hendrick, who’s prosecuting the case for the city of Columbus, says the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office will not pursue a felony indictment.

“This case was reviewed by prosecutor Ron O’Brien and his staff based on what they saw as the evidence they felt there was not enough to proceed with those charges,” Hendrick said.

Vazirani entered a not guilty plea to 20 misdemeanor charges related to the condition of the house. This case will be combined with another case in which Vazirani already has pleaded no contest to similar violations. It could go to trial.

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