E2 Defendants Acquitted

The E2 club’s owner, manager and the man who promoted the party the night 21 people died inside the Chicago club have been acquitted.

Judge Dennis Porter agreed with defense attorneys that prosecutors did not prove their case. The defense argued that nobody could have predicted the tragedy and the prosecutors were pressured by politicians to throw the book at the defendants.

Those acquitted are club co-owner Calvin Hollins Jr., club manager Calvin Hollins III and party promoter Marco Flores. Fellow club owner Dwain Kyles still faces a separate trial. All four were accused of involuntary manslaughter.

Defense attorneys made a motion for a directed verdict, asking the judge to acquit their clients immediately after prosecutors rested their case.

Prosecutors in the non-jury trial pointed out that videotape reveals 1,152 people were in the club February 17, 2003 – roughly five times the capacity. The prosecution was not allowed to introduce a Housing Court order requiring E2 to close because of code violations. It was considered a key piece of the prosecution’s case.

Authorities have said the tragedy occurred after someone used pepper spray to break up a fight, sending patrons fleeing down a narrow staircase to the ground floor exit door, where bodies soon piled up.

Defense attorneys claimed unusual circumstances led to the tragedy, including September 11, 2001, because patrons yelled of Osama bin Laden, anthrax and poison gas.