LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A German national Friday was sentenced to one year in jail and three years formal probation in the death of a 36-year LAFD veteran.
KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports architect Gerhard Becker, 49, pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter in the death of Glenn Allen, who died after the ceiling of Becker’s Hollywood Hills home collapsed on him during a fire.
Becker was the architect of the luxury residence, which had a defective fireplace. Last July, a judge declined to dismiss the case against Becker after defense attorneys argued he was not allowed to present evidence that the city inspector gave him permission to build the fireplace, which, according to prosecutors, caused Allen’s death.
With time served and other credits, Becker will serve less than 120 days in jail after the District Attorney’s Office had sought the maximum term of four years in state prison.
Off-duty members of the Los Angeles Fire Department were gathered in court Friday in honor of Allen, who died following the February 16, 2011, fire at Becker’s custom home on Viewsite Drive.
Prosecutor Sean Carney, with firefighters standing near him in the courtroom, expressed anger over the sentence, adding it would do little to deter people like Becker who flout safety regulations.
“To this defendant, the things he did were just the cost of doing business, and in this case, the cost of doing business was Glenn Allen’s life,” Carney said. “And that is morally abhorrent.”
During firefighting efforts, a portion of the 12,500-square-foot home’s ceiling collapsed, fatally wounding 61-year-old Allen and injuring several other firefighters.
Prior to sentencing, Frank Lima, president of the city firefighters union, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the possibility of a more lenient sentence for Becker has brought frustration to many of Allen’s colleagues.
“Approximately 200 letters have gone to the courthouse from firefighters, people in the community, and obviously members of his family,” Lima said.
Allen’s wife, Melanie, stood before Becker’s sentence was announced and read a letter, which stated in part, “Glenn and I met at church when I was 5 and he was 10. I could write volumes on our times together but suffice it to say, my life has been ripped to shreds.”
She then spoke about their daughter who was pregnant with their first grandson at the time of Allen’s death in February of 2011.
She stated, “she watched her loving father die on the 18th, and then was rushed to another hospital where she gave birth to her son on the 19th. I know she feels his loss every day, just as I do, and smiles and cries at the same time with each new discovery that her boys make.”
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)