Jury Finds Developer, Project Manager Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter in Milpitas Worker's Death

A Bay Area developer and his project manager on Tuesday were found by a jury to be guilty of involuntary manslaughter after one of their workers was killed on a job site.

The incident occurred in 2012 as workers were digging to build a luxury home in the Milpitas Foothills. Raul Zapata was working at the job site when a wall of dirt and rocks came crashing down on him. His brother, also a worker, tried frantically, but unsuccessfully, to rescue him.

"Faustino tried to dig his brother out from under the dirt," prosecutor Bud Porter said. "After 10 minutes of digging it was obvious that he was killed instantly."

Just two days before the deadly accident, Milpitas inspectors had given the developer an order to stop work for safety reasons, but the work continued.

The developer is identified as Richard Liu and his project manager is identified as Dan Luo.

"They gambled with the idea that they could build a home without any protection for worker safety," Porter said of Liu and Luo. "And they gambled with the lives of other human beings."

Liu's lawyer told NBC Bay Area he was disappointed with the conviction and might seek an appeal, perhaps even a new trial.

Zapata, an undocumented worker, left behind three daughters.

"Raul Zapata and the other workers from Mexico were treated like their lives didn't matter," Porter said. "But their lives mattered because they are human beings."

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