BOONE, N.C. (AP) — The company that owned a Boone hotel where three people died of carbon monoxide poisoning will be dissolved under a plea deal struck Monday that drops criminal charges against one of its executives.
Appalachian Hospitality Management Corporation entered a guilty plea as a business entity under the deal that includes dismissal of criminal charges against its president Damon Mallatere, said defense attorney David Freedman. The judge ordered the dissolution of the company.
Mallatere had faced charges including involuntary manslaughter.
The case resulted from carbon monoxide deaths in 2013 at the Best Western hotel in Boone. Daryl and Shirley Jenkins, a couple traveling in the western part of the state, died at the hotel in April 2013. Several weeks later, 11-year-old Jeffrey Williams died in the same room, and his mother was injured.
The victims’ families issued a statement saying that they would continue to pursue civil litigation related to the deaths and push for stricter rules nationwide for carbon monoxide detectors in hotels.
“The plea agreement brings closure to the criminal phase. However, justice for our families will not be served until all parties are held accountable for their respective roles,” the statement said.
After the boy’s death, authorities discovered a carbon monoxide leak in a heating system for a swimming pool on the floor below the room. Mallatere has said that after the couple died in the room, he asked the maintenance supervisor to have someone check for natural gas leaks and that a contractor said everything was working.
A message left seeking comment with the administrative assistant for the prosecutor wasn’t immediately returned.
Freedman said that his client believes responsibility is shared by a number of people involved in a chain of events leading up to the deaths.
In a phone interview, Freedman said his client believes that “anyone who was involved in that chain should feel some level of responsibility.”
Freedman represented Mallatere and the company in the criminal case, but said he’s not involved in the civil case.