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Thread: Rhode Island Nightclub Owners Sentenced In Fatal Fire

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    Rhode Island Nightclub Owners Sentenced In Fatal Fire

    Rhode Island Nightclub Owners Sentenced In Fatal Fire


    Updated: 09-29-2006 05:02:26 PM


    Story by thebostonchannel.com

    The Station nightclub owners Michael and Jeffery Derderian were sentenced Friday in connection with a fire that claimed the lives of 100 people.

    Superior Court Judge Francis Darigan sentenced Michael Derderian, 45, to four years in jail. His brother, Jeffrey, 39, received a suspended sentence, probation and community service. The Derderians pleaded no contest to 100 counts each of involuntary manslaughter.

    "The fire moved so fast. I was scared. I wish I did a better job," Jeffrey Derderian said. "There are many days that I wish I didn't make it out of that building, because if I didn't, maybe some of these families would feel better."

    "We will do everything we can so that every question can be answered -- so that all the facts, not just some of them, come out," Michael Derderian said.

    One hundred people were killed and another 200 injured on Feb. 20, 2003, when pyrotechnics were set off during a performance by the 1980s band Great White, igniting flammable insulation put into the club to soundproof it. The flames spread through the club within minutes and toxic fumes trapped many panicked concertgoers inside.

    The sentences were imposed after dozens of family and friends of the victims delivered victim impact statements at the Kent County Courthouse. The hearing began in a darkened courtroom with a reading of the names of all of the people killed in the fire, their pictures displayed on a screen at the front of the room.

    Darigan laid out the ground rules for the victims' impact statements. He said the focus must be kept on the victims and the impact of their loss. No one would be allowed to share their personal dissatisfaction with the criminal justice system or the sentence given to the Derderians -- a sentence that would not be changed by their words.

    "I also know that you've been told by some that perhaps after listening to presenters here today, the court might be inclined to change its mind and someone alter the plea and or the disposition that I have indicated. I must tell you that that is not the case," Darigan said.

    Then, more than three years after the fire that claimed their loved ones, it was time for the presenters to be heard. Sarah Ballard was just 18 when she lost her mother in the blaze.

    "What I have learned from all of this is life really is too short and to never take anything for granted. Every moment you have with the people you love and care about it precious. I just wish I never had to learn this life lesson," Ballard said.

    The Derderian brothers sat silent, guarded by police officers as family members passed them after delivering their statements. After about two hours of testimony, Jeff Derderian cried and his attorney wiped her eyes.

    Jay McLaughlin, the brother-in-law of victims Sandy and Michael Hoogasian, started to say that what he had learned from the fire was hatred.

    "Hatred of the sniveling little coward who hid the money box in the snow while people were dying in the club ..." McClaughlin said, before the judge interrupted telling him, "All right, sir, let's just stick to the facts."

    But McLaughlin continued, saying that he had learned "Hatred of the state," before Darigan called for a recess. The judge allowed McLaughlin to proceed with his statement after a warning and McLaughlin summed up his feelings with a simple statement that may reflect what many of the victims' families feel.

    "So, with that the only thing I really have to say is that the only thing I've learned from these court proceedings is that Lady Justice in Rhode Island is blind ... but she's also deaf," McLaughlin said.

    Earlier this year, Great White's tour manager, Dan Biechele, pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in May and was sentenced to four years for involuntary manslaughter for igniting the pyrotechnics.

    Copyright 2006 by TheBostonChannel.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...6&sectionId=46

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    Father watches in disbelief

    Saturday, September 30, 2006
    Father watches in disbelief

    By Richard Nangle TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
    rnangle@telegram.com



    Although he lost a future daughter-in-law, and later his son, as a result of The Station nightclub fire three years ago, David Wunschel of Auburn chose to watch yesterday

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    Grief and fury in R.I. court

    Saturday, September 30, 2006
    Grief and fury in R.I. court

    Wrath aimed at Station judge

    By Eric Tucker THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


    WARWICK, R.I.

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    The Station fire: the trail to sentencing

    Saturday, September 30, 2006
    The Station fire: the trail to sentencing

    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


    PROVIDENCE

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