No contest plea in building code violation case

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A no contest plea today in a case involving a house where two people died that neighbors want leveled. Kenneth Layne was the sole survivor in a deadly house fire on Wrens Nest Road last December. Eight months later, the house remains untouched.

Layne appeared before a judge today for a building code violation. This case expanded to include two more people. A county attorney told the judge they too have an interest in the house and will face the same charge as Layne.

Neighbors don't care about the legal wrangling, they just want the house gone, even more so now that school is about to start again. As the controversy mounts, neighbors are standing their ground.

"The heart of the community goes out to Tracey and Jacob and obviously to Kenny, but enough is enough," said neighbor Steve Fischer.

The man who could give us answers ran away from our camera. Kenneth Layne pleaded no contest to a building code violation. He had been ordered in May to repair or demolish the home on Wrens Nest Road.

It's been nearly eight months since the electrical fire that killed his wife, Tracey Johnson and their 12-year-old son Jacob. Layne told me he didn't want to relive that day.

"Mr. Layne is holding this community hostage by basically doing nothing," said Fischer.

Fischer is now worried about the well beings of area school children.

"Wrens Nest Road here is a major thoroughfare for the busses," said Fischer.

The school bus stop is a block away or just a short walk to the corner Wrens Nest and Robious to what he calls an eyesore.

"Hundreds of kids come by this and see that their friend Jacob, you know remember Jacob," said Fischer.

A second notice of unsafe structure was posted naming Joshua and Cassandra Johnson. Tracey Johnson's mother said they are Tracey's son and daughter from a previous marriage. A county inspector is looking for them.

"When are your grandchildren going to be back?" asked the inspector.

According to the posted letter, the two have seven days from today to repair or demolish.

Tracey's mother said Layne was named executor when her daughter died, but her grandchildren each own a third of the house. She said they've been trying to sell it.

"Whatever family squabbles there are I and the community really don't care, quite honestly. At this point this needs to go away," said Fischer.

A county attorney told the judge there was a purchasing contract in June but two other tenants in common haven't signed it.

A September court date was set for Layne to return to court with the other two people.

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