Attorney: Boone Hotel defendant "remorseful and sorrowful" - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Attorney: Boone Hotel defendant "remorseful and sorrowful"

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Barry Damon Mallatere went before a judge in Boone Tuesday to be arraigned on indictments accusing him of involuntary manslaughter in the 2013 carbon monoxide deaths of three people  at the Best Western Hotel.

An elderly couple, Daryl and Shirley Jenkins, died in April in room 225. Two months later, eleven-year-old Jeffery Williams died and his mother was seriously hurt in the same room.

All the cases were later attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty exhaust system for a pool heater in the room below.

Planning officials for the town of Boone have said that proper permits were not obtained for the installation of that heater. 

Mallatere was indicted last month by the Watauga County Grand Jury. He was the only one that prosecutors sought indictments against.

Judge Phillip Ginn was to handle the arraignment Tuesday but Ginn recused himself from the case saying Mallatere was a client in the past and was a friend of his. Instead, the arraignment was postponed until April 21.

Mallatere's Attorney, Dudley Witt, said the delay was not a surprise. When asked by reporters about Mallatere's current state of mind while facing the charges, Witt said "He is remorseful and sorrowful."

Witt said his client will plead not guilty the charges and while he says what happened at the hotel was a "tragic accident," he does not think Mallatere should be held criminally liable.

"Not all accidental deaths are criminal in nature," said Witt.  Mallatere would not answer questions on Tuesday but Witt said Mallatere "Is ready for the whole matter to get over with but I feel it is several years down the road."

In addition to the criminal charges he faces, it is likely that civil lawsuits will be filed at some point, said Witt.  The defense team has already received much of the state's evidence and is examining it.

The team expects to receive more paperwork as the process continues.

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