In an unusual case, a landlord in Long Island, N.Y., is about to stand trial for criminally negligent homicide in the deaths of three tenants who succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning.

 It’s not every day that a prosecutor files criminal charges in a case of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning,  but that’s what happened in Long Island, where Wilson Milford, 52, of Brentwood, N.Y., will be tried in Suffolk County Court. 

He is accused of killing three people who lived in a house he owned in West Babylon, and where he had installed a gas-powered generator.  On Nov. 20, 2007  Tanisha Armstrong, 24, her daughter Talani Johnson, 4, and a neighbor, Ricardo Pierce, 27, died of carbon monoxide poisoning from fumes from that generator. 

On Monday Judge James Hudson told Milford that he would have to represent himself during jury selection for his trial. The judge issued that order after Milford’s attorney, Albert Dayan, resigned. Dayan told the court that he and Milford had disagreements about the fee the lawyer would receive and over a plea bargain offer that Milford turned down.

Milford has had several lawyers, and the judge accused him of being difficult so that Dayan would resign — and the trial would therefore have to be postponed. 

So the judge said Milford will have to act as his own counsel during jury selection, which was set to start Wednesday. But Milford will have a lawyer to serve as his legal advisor at jury selection.

Judge Hudson also said that Milford may also have to act as his own counsel during his trial.   

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