Archive for Thursday, February 8, 2007

Rose Trial Day 2: Brothers describe jumping from the flames

Demarquis Maybell shows jurors his injuries

February 8, 2007, 9:38 a.m. Updated February 8, 2007, 5:01 p.m.


Audio Clips
Boardwalk Fire trial witness testimony

Another victim of the Boardwalk Apartments fire told jurors this morning of the struggle to escape flames that were crawling into his apartment the morning of Oct. 7, 2005. He's the first of three victims expected to testify this morning.

Holding his arm out to his side, former Boardwalk tenant Demarquis Maybell showed jurors where shards of glass from a broken window sliced the tendons and arteries in his left arm - cuts he suffered just before he jumped from the broken window into a stairwell below.

In the middle of his testimony, Maybell rolled up his shirt sleeve and walked over to the jury. With little expression on their faces, jurors examined his black scarring, the unnatural bend in the middle of his forearm where it was injured in the fall.

Now, he testified, he has a steel rod from his knee to his hip, nerve damage throughout his arm that stops his thumb from moving and problems finding work he can do physically.

"Are you still suffering pain?" Assistant District Attorney David Melton asked.

"Yes, sir," Maybell said.

Maybell was the victim helped by several officers from the stairwell three floors below his apartment the night of the fire. Several officers testified Wednesday about their struggles helping Maybell, eventually setting him on half of an extendable ladder to get him away from the burning apartment.

Lawrence Police Officer Todd Polson, who testified yesterday, said that he believed for a time that Maybell wouldn't survive his injuries.

Update: 10:35 a.m.

The prosecution presented jurors with two more witnesses to the Boardwalk Apartments fire this morning, both painting a picture of the night of the fire and attempting to establish that the fire began on the second floor of the apartments.

Investigators have said that the fire began in the middle of the second-floor walkway, and police have previously testified that defendant Jason Rose had admitted to starting a fire there.

Fire victims Eli Greenbaum and his girlfriend Dawn Davis both testified this morning, describing the moments they realized their apartment complex was ablaze and their decision to jump from the third-floor window of their apartment.

Greenbaum and Davis testified that their apartment had quickly filled with smoke - giving them only one way out as fire crept toward their front door and explosions rattled the floor beneath them.

"One of these explosions could come through the floor and kill us," Greenbaum said. "I told Dawn: We have to jump or we're going to die."

Davis jumped first, she said, and quickly knew the extent of her injuries.

"When I hit the ground, I just knew my back was broken," Davis said.

Davis also broke her wrist, pelvis, heels and other bones. She had several surgeries for her injuries, as recently as October 2006, and is still in physical therapy, she said.

Both Greenbaum and Davis, along with witness Adam Washington, established that the fire began on the second floor from what they could tell.

Washington testified that he spent most of the night of Oct. 6, 2005, at his friends' house at an apartment across Fireside Drive. When the fire broke out, he described seeing flames coming from the middle of the second floor walkway.

"Where was the fire in that whole row of buildings?" Assistant District Attorney Amy McGowan asked.

"Probably in the mid-region." Washington said.

But according to a statement Washington gave police, he said at the time that the fire appeared to originate partially from a basement-level apartment. During cross-examination, Rose's attorney, Ron Evans, questioned Washington about his statement, but he said he made a mistake when he gave police his statement and didn't understand that the apartment he noted was on the bottom floor.

Update: 12:34 p.m.

Two cans of lighter fluid. Two lighters. A box full of old family photos, including a torn-up picture of a birthday cake.

These are some of the items police detectives confiscated from inside and around the apartment of defendant Jason Rose's apartment just days after the Boardwalk Apartments fire.

Rose is suspected of setting the fire that killed three people in the apartments Oct. 7, 2005 - a fire police have said could have started when Rose, who spent much of his childhood in foster care, lit a box of photographs on fire.

In testimony this morning, police detective Jim Martin told the jury of the searches of Rose's apartment, his SUV and the area around the burned-out complex. Inside Rose's water-logged apartment, Martin testified that he and agents from the Kansas State Fire Marshall's office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found two lighters and a can of lighter fluid - along with photographs in a cardboard box in the middle of Rose's living room floor.

"Photographs of him, basically, through his life," Martin explained to Assistant District Attorney Amy McGowan during questioning.

Those items were found during a second search of Rose's apartment on Oct. 13, 2005, after interviews with Rose pointed them in the right direction, Martin said. He said interviews revealed that Rose had days before the fire been shipped a box containing some old photos and other remnants of the then 20-year-old's past.

But Martin admitted under questioning from defense attorney Ron Evans that he couldn't tell if any of the photographs found in Rose's apartment had been burned, or if the cardboard box the photos were in had a shipping label on them.

As with most everything else in the apartment, the cardboard box was so damaged by water it fell apart when touched.

Martin also admitted he didn't know how much liquid was in the metal lighter fluid containers when police served the search warrant. ATF investigators kept only a sample of each liquid, then dumped out the rest, Martin testified. Also, Martin said dogs from the Fire Marshall's office found no sign of accelerants in both Rose's apartment and car.

Update: 3:50 p.m.

Fire killed all three of the victims trapped inside the Boardwalk Apartments the morning of Oct. 7, 2005, but Douglas County coroner Erik Mitchell said two of the victims had other health issues at the time of their death.

In testimony during the murder and arson trial of Jason Rose today, Mitchell said Yolanda Riddle, Jose Gonzalez and Nicole Bingham all ultimately died because of either burns to their body or carbon monoxide in their blood - both suffered during the apartment fire.

According to both Mitchell's testimony, along with gruesome photographs entered into evidence, both Gonzalez and Bingham suffered severe burns - so severe that Gonzalez weighed 87 pounds during his autopsy and Bingham had no liquid blood left to test for carbon monoxide and other toxins.

"He was quite charred," Mitchell said of Gonzalez during the autopsy, performed in the days after the fire.

Update: 4:45 p.m.

Brothers Joel and Victor Lamberto both leapt from their apartment's third story window the night of the Boardwalk Apartments fire - between saving Victor's wife and daughter from the encroaching flames.

The Lamberto brothers testified today in the trial of Jason Rose, who is accused of setting the fire that killed three and burned the 76-unit complex at Boardwalk Apartments.

Victor Lamberto told the jury that when he and his wife noticed an orange glow outside their door, then peeked out onto the wooded walkway of their third-floor apartment.

"It was all burning," Victor Lamberto said through a translator. "It was all coming and burning through the balcony."

Joel Lamberto jumped first, breaking his heels. But he got up and caught his niece, lowered down from the apartment window by her mother's outstretched arm. His brother and sister-in-law jumped next, then drug Joel Lamberto away from the flaming apartment.

Joel Lamberto also said he told police investigators the day after the fire that he believed the fire spread from the bottom floor, upward and outward. Lamberto's description, under questioning from defense attorney Ron Evans, contradicts the alleged confession Rose gave to police, where he said he set the fire in the middle of the second floor walkway.

But under new questioning from Assistant District Attorney David Melton, Joel Lamberto said he really didn't know where the fire originated.

"So you don't know where the fire started, correct?" Melton asked

"No," Joel Lamberto replied.

"And you don't know what floor it started on, correct?"

"No," he said.

The Lambertos' testimony capped a day where the prosecution called witnesses who painted a vivid scene of the night of the fire - victims jumping out of windows, slicing themselves on window panes and breaking bones on the concrete below.


Steve Jacob 10 years, 9 months ago

"Also, Martin said dogs from the Fire Marshall's office found no sign of accelerants in both Rose's apartment and car"

As stated before, at least when your facing the death penalty, you get the best public defenders.

Dr_crazy_go_nutz 10 years, 9 months ago

Ok so there was a fire I'm so glad the prosicution could figure that out. It was realy compelling when they staded that he had lighters and a half container of lighter fluid I have no idea why a smoker would have that stuff. I guess they forgot to mention the cigarettes that they probobly found. Also if they found the mythical box of cards how could he have set it on fire? at least this is the impresion I get from the article though this article is probobly not the hole story like the ljw usualy does leaves you hanging.

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