Thursday, January 19, 2006

Remembering Aaron, John and Frank

It was six years ago yesterday that a fire in Boland Hall, the freshman dorm at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, killed 18-year-old Aaron Karol of Green Brook, John Giunta of Vineland and Frank Caltabilota, Jr. of West Long Branch and injured (some very badly) 58 other students. A memorial mass was held at Seton Hall yesterday as was a midnight vigil in a memorial garden outside of Boland Hall.

As a Seton Hall alum (albeit from one of its graduate schools and not as an undergraduate), I hope the school always remembers its promise to keep the memory of the fire alive as well as the memory of those who died and of those who were injured.

As for who started the fire, two former Seton Hall students -- Sean Ryan and Joseph LePore -- were indicted on June 12, 2003 for 62 counts of felony murder, arson, reckless manslaughter and aggravated assault. LePore's sister and parents were also indicted for, among other things, obstruction of justice. They all entered "not guilty" pleas. The Essex County Prosecutor's press release as well as the indictments are available here (scroll down to 6/12/03 press release titled "Essex Grand Jury Returns Indictment In Seton Hall Fire Case" -- links to the indictments are at the bottom of the release). A detailed look (although maybe somewhat embellished) of the fire, those killed and injured and those responsible can be found here.

As stated in today's Star-Ledger, no trial date for Ryan or LePore has been set and the case is essentially at a standstill.

Its time that Aaron, John and Frank -- and the 58 students who were injured -- see justice done. Let Ryan and LePore have their day in court and be judged by a jury of their peers. Its the least we can do for the Karol, Giunta and Caltabilota families.

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