Defense: Juror contacted 'Black Sunday' witness

Defense attorneys in the Black Sunday trial claim a juror?s alleged online relationship with a witness is reason to overturn the convictions of their clients.

David Goldstein and Neal Comer represent building manager Cesar Rios and the company that owns a building where firefighters Curtis Meyran and John Bellew died. The defense attorneys claim one of the jurors sent a witness a computer message during the trial urging him to join Facebook, the popular social networking Web site.

Goldstein says the impartiality of the juror was impacted during the trial because of the relationship. The jury found Rios and the building owner guilty of failing to deconstruct illegal walls tenants had erected in the apartment. Prosecutors say those walls trapped smoke and flames, forcing Meyran and Bellew to jump to their deaths in January 2005.

The trial ended in February. Rios, who has yet to be sentenced, faces up to five years behind bars. The building owners could be fined up to $15,000.

AP wire services contributed to this article.

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