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Opening Arguments Set for Fatal Meatpacking Construction Accident Trial

 Wilmer Cueva, 50, and Alfonso Prestia, 54, were arraigned in 2015 on charges of manslaughter.
Wilmer Cueva, 50, and Alfonso Prestia, 54, were arraigned in 2015 on charges of manslaughter.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

CIVIC CENTER — Opening statements in the trial against two subcontractors charged in the death of a young construction worker in the Meatpacking District are set for Wednesday morning in State Supreme Court.

Carlos Moncayo, 22, was buried alive in an unsafe excavation at a construction site owned by developers William Gottlieb Real Estate and Aurora Capital Associates at 9-19 Ninth Ave. on April 6, 2015, prosecutors said.

The developers are building a Restoration Hardware flagship store at that location, which was previously the restaurant Pastis.

The date for opening arguments was set by Judge A. Kirke Bartley, Jr. Monday morning when attorneys for the two contractors responsible for the site at the time of Moncayo's death, Alfonso Prestia of Harco Construction and Wilmer Cueva of Sky Materials Corp., appeared for what was expected to be the first day of the trial.

READ PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Subcontractors Charged In Construction Death Lose Bid to Dismiss Case

It's unclear whether it will be a bench trial, with the ruling coming from Judge Bartley, or a jury trial. That will be announced in court Wednesday when the trial resumes at 10 a.m.

The defendants' attorneys, Ron Fischetti and Tom Curran, declined to comment on Monday, as did Assistant District Attorney Diana Florence.

Florence oversees the city's new Construction Fraud Task Force, created after Moncayo died. The case is the first time the city is holding contractors accountable for a worker's death, officials said.

READ MORE: Contractors Charged in Death of Worker 'Buried Alive' at Construction Site

The owner of Harco Construction, Kenneth Hart, had his license suspended by the Department of Buildings, but only for one month, followed by five months of probation.

At the time of Moncayo's death, Hart had violations at seven other sites, all of which were owned by members of the Cayre-Adjmi family. (Bobby Cayre is the principal owner of Aurora Capital Associates.)

READ MORE: Contractor Behind Pastis Death Had Hazardous Violations at 7 Other Sites

The construction site at 9-19 Ninth Ave. on April 6, 2015, the day 22-year-old construction worker Carlos Moncayo was crushed to death. Photo credit: Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

Monday's hearing was attended by Moncayo's family and dozens of construction workers and workers' rights advocates.