A Toledo, Ohio landlord accused of reckless homicide in the deaths of four tenants entered a plea of “no contest”–an admission of the truth of the facts alleged against him. The judge handling the case accepted the plea and found the man guilty of the crimes.
Previously, the landlord had entered of plea of not guilty and set the case for trial.
The tenants were acquaintances of the landlord and his wife, according to previous statements to police.
It was undisputed that the landlord allowed the mother and three children to move into a property despite the fact there was no electricity. After receiving complaints about the cold, he brought over the generator so that the family could power a space heater. He set the generator up in the kitchen.
Originally, the landlord claimed he did not leave the generator, and a police report indicated he may have moved it at the scene.
The case against him hinged on whether he knew the dangers of running a gas-powered appliance inside the home. According to a local news report, the landlord told prosecutors that he had run the generator inside before and nothing had happened. He claimed he positioned it to vent up the stairwell and away from the living area. The landlord also claimed he feared that if he left it outside in that neighborhood it would have been stolen.
There is no indication that the property was equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. It does not appear that Ohio is among the many states which currently require installation of carbon monoxide detectors in rental homes. However, in many cold-weather areas landlords are required to provide heat by law or as a condition of habitability.
All four family members died during the night, and were found together near the sofa.
The landlord has not yet been sentenced, but could face up to 20 years in prison.
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