SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- The city code enforcement officer accused of lying about the fire alarm system inside a Jay Street apartment building that burned down just hours later has been found not guilty of all but one count Tuesday afternoon in court.
Kenneth Tyree was acquitted on manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges in connection to his alleged role in a fire that killed four people back in 2015. That fire happened three years ago Tuesday.
"Everybody knew in this city that I was innocent, and even the jurors, so I'm happy for that, and I thank the jurors for seeing that," said an emotional Tyree, after the verdict was read.
Prosecutors had alleged that Tyree lied by saying the fire alarm was working when it really wasn't. The fire then started 14 hours later. Tyree's attorney argued that he wasn't trained or qualified to check the fire alarm panel.
"There was just nothing about his actions that day that would lead to anyone to believe that he was negligent or reckless," said Mark Gaylord, Tyree's attorney.
Tyree was found guilty of offering a false instrument for filing, which has to do with him lying about past felonies on his job application to become a building inspector. He'll be sentenced on that charge on May 8, when he faces 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison.
"It was always a tough case against the building inspector," said Schenectady County District Attorney Bob Carney. "He was there for 10 seconds looking at the fire panel. There's no question he was negligent. The sad irony about this is if somebody had opened that unlocked box and press the reset button, those four people will be alive."
Building manager Jason Sacks was also charged in this case. He pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and faces 1 to 3 years in prison.
As Tyree left the courtroom Tuesday, he says he'll always remember the four people who lost their lives in that fire.
"They'll always be with me and on my shoulder, and wherever for the rest of my life," he said. "I could've been the last person to ever talk to them. Of course I'm sad people's lives were lost. I have a kid. I wouldn't want anything to happen to him."