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Opening statements in trial over 2015 Jay Street fire involve finger-pointing

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SCHENECTADY -- The prosecution claimed there was a dereliction of duty.

The defense called the whole case a witch-hunt.

Kenneth Tyree’s defense attorney Mark Gaylord started out opening statement by claiming there are other people at fault for a fire on Jay Street in Schenectady that killed four people in 2015. Tyree's defense shifted blame to the now-former building manager Jayson Sacks, who took a plea deal last month.

“What you're gonna hear about Mr. Sacks was that he knew code enforcement was coming that day. Jay Sacks, who you'll see is a big bull*****er," Gaylord said.

“Disregard that, strike that disregard that, it's inappropriate,” said the judge right after his remark.

Gaylord says his client shouldn't take the brunt of the blame, and believes Tyree is being scapegoated. Gaylord says Tyree wasn't even certified to issue a building violation.

"In order for them to write a ticket to somebody like a violation to appear in court, he would have to have a supervisor's signature," Gaylord told reporters during intermission.

Schenectady County Assistant District Attorney Michael DeMatteo says there wasn't a working fire alarm system in the building, and that Tyree lied about that to investigators.

"There was no alert, there was no warning there was no one coming for help. The alarm system was last reset and in working order in all zones on January 30th 2015,” DeMatteo said.

The prosecution wrapped up their remarks by claiming Tyree didn't take action to fix issues after his inspection, which was less than a day before that fire broke out.

"The defendant was under a duty to remedy the situation. To make sure the alarm was functioning, to issue an order to vacate or order a fire watch for 24 hours a day until the alarm was in working,” DeMatteo said.

Sacks is scheduled to testify in the trial. Both he and Tyree could face up to 15 years in prison.

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