A German architect who allegedly designed and built a house in a way that led to the death of an L.A. firefighter is scheduled to make a plea in his manslaughter case this morning.
Gerhard Becker, 49, designed the modern home he lived in above Sunset Plaza. On Feb. 16, 2011, it went up in flames in a blaze that fire officials believe likely started in a 15-foot fireplace:
The feature did not have fire stops common to contemporary homes, leading to a ceiling collapse that ultimately killed L.A. Fire Department firefighter/paramedic Glenn Allen, authorities claimed.
According to the city firefighters' union:
During fire suppression efforts, a ceiling collapsed which caused injuries to 11 firefighters and resulted in the death of Firefighter Glenn Allen. Firefighter Allen faithfully served the citizens of Los Angeles for over 36 years.
The Viewsite Drive home's fireplace was built with savings rather than safety in mind, prosecutors allege. A manslaughter conviction would be the first of its kind for an architect in United States history.
However, given that Becker has indicated he'll take a plea deal, it seems he might be convicted of a lesser charge. We reached out to the L.A. District Attorney's office for clarification but had yet to hear back.
Becker, who is is from Germany and whose family is in Mallorca, Spain, ultimately rebuilt the home and put it on the market for $11 million. He has maintained his innocence, as detailed in Gene Maddaus' March 21 LA Weekly cover story.
According to the LAFD, he was scheduled to make a plea at 8:30 a.m. today in L.A. Superior Court downtown.
L.A. firefighters and paramedics were expected to show up in uniform.