The former Great White tour manager whose pyrotechnics caused a Rhode Island nightclub fire that killed 100 people was sentenced Wednesday (May 10) to four years in prison.
Daniel Biechele, 29, could have received up to 10 years behind bars under a deal he struck with prosecutors in February, when he pleaded guilty to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter.
“The greatest sentence that can be imposed upon you, has been imposed upon you by yourself,” Superior Court Judge Francis Darigan Jr. told Biechele, drawing sobs and groans from some of those in the courtroom.
The sentence came after two days of anguished testimony from the victims’ families, who told of college graduations they would never see, grandchildren they would never hold, and grief so powerful that they could not get out of bed in the morning.
Biechele was the tour manager for Great White when on Feb. 20, 2003, he lit a pyrotechnics display that ignited highly flammable foam that lined the walls and ceiling of the Station nightclub in West Warwick. The foam was used as soundproofing and was placed there by the owners after neighbors complained about noise from the club.
Many of the 100 people who were killed that night either were quickly overcome by fumes emitted by the foam or became trapped in a crush at the front door. He is the first person to be sentenced for the fire. The owners of the club are awaiting trial on manslaughter charges.
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