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Landlord in tenant deaths seeks trial venue change

The landlord of a West Babylon house where three people died from carbon monoxide poisoning from a gas generator he allegedly placed in the home is asking for a change of venue for his trial on criminal negligent homicide charges.

Wilson Milord's attorney, Albert Dayan of Kew Gardens, said Thursday in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead he would file the motion in two weeks. Milord faces three counts of negligent homicide. Tanisha Armstrong, 24, her daughter, Talani Johnson, 4, and Armstrong's neighbor, Ricardo Pearce, 27, were found dead on Nov. 20, 2007, from carbon monoxide poisoning in a home rented from Milord.

Because of the widespread news media coverage, Milord's attorney said he will not get a fair trial in Suffolk County.

According to Babylon Town, the home had been converted from a single-family home to a multifamily dwelling and had been condemned. Prosecutors said Milord, 49, refused to provide electricity and instead placed a generator in the home.

Milord, of Brentwood, faces 13 other charges, including seven counts of second- and third-degree grand larceny, in alleged mortgage fraud on other properties. Milord, a licensed real estate broker for Home Design Realty in Brentwood, has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

"Mr. Milord will not be able to get a fair jury here due to the many news articles and media using inflammatory language in the way they described him," Dayan said outside court. "We have to go someplace where no one has heard about this case."

Judge James Hudson set June 1 for jury selection. "Because of the age of the case, the court is very anxious to move forward to trial," said Hudson, adding this date is "absolute" whether Dayan remains Milord's attorney or Milord represents himself. Previous judges have scolded Milord for frequently changing lawyers.

Hudson also admonished Milord for approaching him at a public event to discuss the case, warning Milord to speak to him only in open court.

Assistant District Attorney Thalia Stavrides said she would seek a "significant period of incarceration" that could run as much as 15 years on some counts.

Records show Armstrong's mother, Bettina Lewis, has filed a civil suit against Milord. Lewis could not be reached for comment Thursday.Milord also faces 13 violations in Babylon town related to the West Babylon house. Six are misdemeanors, the town said, carrying a possibility of 6 years in prison and more than $166,000 in penalties.

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