No criminal charges to be filed in Berkeley balcony collapse

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- No criminal charges will be filed in a deadly balcony collapse that happened in Berkeley last summer.

Six people died, they were all college students and mostly from Ireland. Seven other people were badly injured.

RELATED: I-Team: New clues as to why balcony collapsed

A nine-month investigation determined the balcony collapsed because of extreme dry rot in the wood. The Alameda County District attorney didn't feel confident enough to file a manslaughter case based on criminal negligence.

"This is not a decision that I came to lightly. It is the culmination of months of consultation with my team of attorneys," said Nancy O'Malley, the Alameda County District Attorney.

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: 13 lawsuits filed in deadly Berkeley balcony collapse

There is a memorial of candles and pictures where the six died last June. The decision by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office to not file criminal charges is a disappointment for Ashley Donohoe's family.

"There is a deep desire for this case to act as a lesson for other builders and avoid a tragedy like this from happening again," the Donohoe's family said in a statement.

The district attorney's decision drew varied responses.

PHOTOS: Several killed in balcony collapse in Berkeley

"We should not have young people's lives destroyed because of malfeasance, because of incompetence, that's wrong," said Berkeley resident Arty Finman.

Shawn Liu lives in the building and was home when the balcony collapsed last summer and he said he felt the district attorney's decision was ridiculous. Liu said it was traumatizing to see the devastation that night.

All of the balconies were removed after the collapse last June. Berkeley Mayor Thomas Bates applauds the district attorney for beginning a criminal probe, but he understands proving the charges may not have been possible.

"It's a very difficult thing to prove, I mean you have to prove beyond a doubt that there's intent. Or that it's just heinous and it happened because of neglect," Bates said.

Late last year, ABC7 New revealed details of 13 civil lawsuits filed against the contractor on this job, the property owner, and the property management company. The lawsuits allege the builders may have cut corners to save money.

Now that the criminal case has been closed with no charges, the information collected by the district attorney's office could be used by plaintiffs.

Click here for full coverage on the deadly Berkeley balcony collapse.
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