Former Great White Manager Sentenced To 4 Years In Prison For Role In Nightclub Fire
May 10, 2006 at 2:45 PM (PT)
Former GREAT WHITE tour manager DANIEL BIECHELE, 29, has been sentenced to 4 years in prison for his role in THE STATION nightclub fire in WEST WARWICK, RI on FEBRUARY 20, 2003, reports the AP. The fire, which left 100 dead, was the fourth-deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history. BIECHELE, who pleaded guilty to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter in FEBRUARY, could have gotten as many as 10 years behind bars.
BIECHELE's sentence was handed down after 2 days of "anguished testimony" from families of the victims, who reportedly told of "college graduations they would never see, grandchildren they would never hold, and such grief that they could not get out of bed in the morning." Some parents of victims told the court that they had considered suicide.
I don't know that I'll ever forgive myself for what happened that night, so I can't expect anyone else to
"The greatest sentence that can be imposed upon you, has been imposed upon you by yourself," Superior Court Judge FRANCIS DARIGAN JR. reportedly told BIECHELE at sentencing.
BIECHELE's defense team had asked the court to sentence him to community service, arguing that BIECHELE is truly remorseful and is the only person to accept responsibility for the deadly accident. Prosecution, however, asked for the maximum sentence.
"I know how this tragedy has devastated me, but I can only begin to understand what the people who have lost loved ones have endured," BIECHELE told the court. "I don't know that I'll ever forgive myself for what happened that night, so I can't expect anyone else to."
"I never wanted anyone to be hurt in any way," he said. "I never imagined that anyone ever would be."
BIECHELE was the person who lit the band's pyrotechnic display, which ignited the highly-flammable soundproofing foam lining the club's wall and ceilings. Although he has accepted responsibility for his part in the fire, offering apologies in the courtroom and writing letters to victims' families, BIECHELE maintains that he was given permission to light the display by the club's owners, brothers JEFFREY and MICHAEL DERDERIAN. Both men deny that BIECHELE had permission to light the display.
While MICHAEL DERDERIAN is tentatively scheduled to go to trial on JULY 31, no trial date has been set for brother JEFFREY.