Great White Tour Manager Faces Families
Band Photo: Great White (?)
The Associated Press reports: Watching her severely burned daughter go through 35 operations over two months before doctors took the young woman off life support was "a journey of hell," Ann Gruttadauria told a Providence, R.I., court today (May 8) as a sentencing hearing began for a man she holds responsible.
Her 33-year-old daughter had gone to the Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I., for a Great White concert on Feb. 20, 2003. The band had just started its first set when tour manager Daniel Biechele set off a pyrotechnics display that sparked the state's deadliest fire. Pamela Gruttadauria was its 100th victim.
About 30 people planned to read statements in court today and tomorrow, and a representative from the attorney general's office planned to read prepared remarks from others.
Biechele, 29, pleaded guilty in February to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter and faces up to 10 years in prison. Before the judge sentences him, though, Biechele is hearing from the victims' relatives. Biechele now lives in Florida and works at a flooring company while taking accounting classes at night, his lawyers said in a recent court filing. He has written personal letters of apology to the victims' families. The attorney general's office is seeking the maximum sentence under Biechele's plea deal, saying he acted callously and recklessly. Biechele's lawyers are asking for community service rather than jail time, saying he never intended to harm anyone and could not have known about the foam on the club's walls.
Criminal charges are still pending against the club's owners, brothers Jeffrey and Michael Derderian. Both have pleaded not guilty.
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