Man sentenced for role in fatal house explosion in Salem, N.Y.

Friday December 14, 2012

FORT EDWARD, N.Y. -- Steven McComsey was sentenced Thursday to one to three years in prison for his role in causing his Salem house to explode in 2011, killing six people.

McComsey, 34, pleaded guilty in November to criminally negligent homicide. He initially had faced six counts of manslaughter which could have resulted in a 15-year sentence.

On July 13, 2011, the home McComsey shared with several relatives and which other friends were visiting, exploded after a spark from a water heater ignited propane gas. Eleven people were in the house at the time of the explosion, six died as a result of the blast.

Police say McComsey was invovled in a dispute with his landlords and had let the propane leak into the house.

When McComsey pleaded guilty, he did so via an Alford Plea and as such did not admit his guilt but acknowledge that the prosecution's case against him was so strong he would likely be convicted at trial.

In court Thursday, Kim Ryan, the sister of one of the victims said she had believed in McComsey's innocence all along, until he pleaded guilty. ":He told us repeatedly he didn't do it. He lied to us," she said.

Alicia Berg, who was seriously injured and lost her daughter, mother and boyfriend in the explosion, said she also believed in McComsey's innocence up until his guilty plea. She was inconsolable outside the courtroom, talking about how she would not be able to see her daugher, Niah, grow up. Niah was just 2 months old when she died in the blast.

Linda Porlier, whose daughter Clarissa Porlier, died in the blast, spoke during the court proceeding. "My family and I will never get to experience Clarissa's smiling face and hear her voice. Mr. McComsey should have to feel some of the same pain we will live with for the rest of our lives," she said.

-- The Saratogian


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