Worker's Status Questioned in Tree Trimming Death

Joshua Pudsey, 42, was killed on the job in November 2013

Was the man crushed by a branch while trimming a tree an employee of the company or a contract worker?

That was the question debated during a preliminary hearing Monday against Three Frogs of La Mesa.

Joshua Pudsey, 42, was killed on the job in November 2013. Pudsey was on an aerial lift trimming a 60-foot eucalyptus tree. He was not licensed to trim trees at that height.

Pudsey was working for Three Frogs, a real estate investment firm that buys, renovates and sells homes for profit.

Prosecutors say the Three Frogs executives – David Wolf, John Murphy and Jonathan Cox – violated OSHA safety regulations and workers insurance laws.

Monday was the first day of the three-day preliminary hearing. Much of the day was spent arguing whether Pudsey was an independent contractor or an employee of the company.

This victim’s mother says that doesn’t matter.

On Monday, three La Mesa businessmen charged in a fatal tree trimming accident appeared in court. Joshua Pudsey was killed on the job while working for Three Frogs Incorporated. NBC 7’s Candice Nguyen talked to the victim’s heartbroken mother and has more.

“I hope Three Frogs is listening because they're still in the real estate business and they're still flipping houses. I don't know that a whole lot has changed, other than my son is dead and he doesn't work for them anymore,” Debbi Anderson said.

The defense did not comment. The defendants face four years in prison if convicted.

Pudsey’s girlfriend was pregnant with his child when he died.

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