Derderians Challenge Manslaughter Charges

Lawyers representing The Station nightclub owners Michael and Jeffrey Derderian and former Great White tour manager Dan Biechele asked a judge to dismiss half of the involuntary manslaughter charges against the men during an October 26th hearing.

Superior Court Judge Francis Darigan heard more than two hours of arguments from prosecutors and defense lawyers but did not immediately rule on the request.

The Derderians and Biechele have pleaded innocent to 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter in the 2003 nightclub fire in West Warwick, R.I., that killed 100 and injured 200 more.

Defense lawyers are specifically challenging the 100 counts filed under the theory of misdemeanor manslaughter, which claims the defendants committed misdemeanor offenses that led to the deaths.

Prosecutors claim the Derderians violated state fire safety code by installing flammable foam to soundproof the club. Biechele is accused of igniting pyrotechnics during Great White’s show without obtaining a license to do so.

Prosecutors urged Darigan to let all charges stand, saying the club owners were responsible for knowing the fire code statutes. The other 100 manslaughter charges are for criminal negligence.

The Derderians filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in September. The brothers were to stand trial in Workers Compensation Court for not making full payments to the estates of four workers killed in their club.

They also owe tens of thousands of dollars to the employees’ estates and $1.07 million in fines for failing to carry the required insurance.