News Segment


January 21, 2005

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – It will probably be next year before a trial begins for the owners of a nightclub where 100 people died in a fire and a manager of the band whose pyrotechnics show sparked the blaze, a judge said Friday.

The Station nightclub owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian and former Great White tour manager Daniel Biechele each face 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter, two for every victim of the Feb. 20, 2003, fire.

Proceedings in the criminal case could start by next January “if we’re lucky,” Judge Francis Darigan said Friday. He had originally said the case would begin by fall.

Issues surrounding such topics as tests on the foam and the transfer of evidence to defendants must be resolved before the trial can begin, Darigan said.

In addition to the 100 dead, hundreds of people were injured when sparks from the band’s pyrotechnics ignited the club’s highly flammable soundproofing foam.

Investigators have said the foam allowed the fire to spread quickly and released toxic substances that may have caused some of the deaths. Under state law, flammable material is not supposed to be used as soundproofing in clubs and bars.

Foam samples were recently tested by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with results expected shortly, Darigan said.

The three defendants recently filed motions seeking to conduct their own tests on the foam. Lawyers in the recently consolidated civil cases, brought by survivors and victims’ family members, also want to obtain foam to test.

Relatives of some of the victims said they were trying to be patient.

“It will be three years (since the fire), if it does go to next year. That’s a long time to see justice done,” said Bonnie Hoisington, who lost her daughter, 28-year-old Abbie, in the fire.

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