By RACHEL SILBERSTEIN & JULIA JOHN-SCHEDER
The lawyer representing the SoHo resident accused of arson and murder previewed the defense strategy on Tuesday by arguing in court that the defendant’s confession might be inadmissible because the defendant faced a language barrier.
“Sometimes things get lost in translation,” said defense lawyer Ken Walsh after the arraignment in Manhattan Supreme Court of Wei Chu Hu, accused of setting fire to his Spring Street apartment in January, killing his neighbor, Renee Lea Williams, 66.
Hu confessed to police through a Cantonese translator, the prosecution contends, but the translation might have been flawed.
During the early evening blaze, Hu allegedly fought with first responders to prevent access to the building.
Looking grim and unshaved in his orange jumpsuit and black jacket, Hu looked down as he was charged today, occasionally whispering to his translator.
“A woman died without warning as a result of the destructive, callous actions for which the defendant stands accused,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance in a statement.
“As a result of this fire, none of the building’s residents have been able to return to their apartments and many lost a lifetime of belongings,” he added.
Hu was charged with two counts of murder in the second degree, one count of arson in the first degree and assault in the second degree. He pleaded not guilty.