Editor’s Note: The case has been continued until April 21.
By Jesse Wood
Feb. 18, 2014. Damon Mallatere, the local hotel executive charged with three counts of involuntary manslaughter, has an administrative court date on Tuesday at 11 a.m.
While some news outlets have reported that Mallatere was expected to enter a plea on Monday or Tuesday of this week, Assistant District Attorney and Chief Prosecutor Britt Springer said that was false.
“The only thing that will be happening is both sides asking for a continuance to allow more time for the defense to look over the evidence that has been submitted and for the State to turn over continuing discovery that we have uncovered since the first court date,” Springer said.
She added, “My belief is that a jury will have to decide this one in the end.”
Mallatere’s counsel didn’t immediately respond on Tuesday morning to requests for comment.
In January, Mallatere turned himself in after he was indicted for the involuntary manslaughter charges and one additional count of assault for the carbon monoxide deaths that occurred in two separate incidents in Room 225 of the Best Western Hotel in Boone in April and June 2013. He entered an initial not guilty plea and posted a $40,000 bond.
Daryl and Shirley Jenkins of Washington died in April 2013; 11-year-old Jeffrey Williams died in June 2013 and his mother Jeannie Williams, suffered permanent brain damage from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Springer.
After the Jenkinses died, medical examiners, emergency responders and police and fire departments didn’t realize that the Jenkinses died of carbon monoxide until two months later. That didn’t come to light until after 11-year-old Jeffrey Williams passed away.
After an investigation with local, state and federal authorities, carbon monoxide was found to have been leaked from a faulty water heater exhaust system that was located directly below Room 225. At the time, hotels were not required to have carbon monoxide detectors.
Immediately following the indictment, Mallatere’s attorney released a statement that Mallatere was “extremely disappointed” that the charges focused solely on Mallatere and not the contractors that converted the heater to natural gas. The statement also noted that the conversion was inspected by the Boone Planning & Inspections department.
In an interview with ABC 20/20 after the indictment, Mallatere said, “I don’t believe that anybody that was in any way involved, whether it be the authorities or the contractors or my employees or myself should go to bed tonight and not feel responsibility.”
He added, “I would never willfully hurt a guest if I knew that I could keep that from happening.”
That same ABC 20/20 segment features a chilling interview with Williams’ mother recounting the last time she saw her son alive. Click here to watch that segment.
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