Great White Station Club Update: Nightclub Fire Prosecutors Say They Didn't Conceal Evidence

By Newsferatu, Writer
Tuesday, November 22, 2005 @ 6:08 AM

Derderians Want All Counts Thr

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From the Associated Press:

State prosecutors on Monday rejected accusations that they concealed evidence from the grand jury that indicted three men in connection with a nightclub fire that killed 100 people, and said there was no reason to dismiss any of the charges.

Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, owners of The Station nightclub, last week asked a judge to throw out 200 counts each of involuntary manslaughter, saying prosecutors withheld information that they believe helps their case.

The Feb. 20, 2003, fire at the West Warwick nightclub was started by a rock band's pyrotechnics, which ignited highly flammable soundproofing foam on the building's walls and ceiling. More than 200 people were injured.

The Derderians have said they did not know the foam was flammable when they bought it from Johnston-based American Foam Corp., or that it was in violation of the state fire code.

Earlier this month, prosecutors turned over a fax sent to them anonymously in May 2003 that claimed American Foam did not warn customers about the flammable qualities of the foam.

Barry Warner, a former salesman at American Foam who sold the foam to the Derderians, admitted to prosecutors this month that he wrote the fax. The company's general manager has said Warner's claims are not true.

The Derderians' lawyers said the eight-page fax supports their case and accused prosecutors of withholding the evidence.

But in a strongly worded response filed Monday, prosecutors said they never claimed that Warner or American Foam told the Derderians the foam was flammable. They pointed out that the president of the company, Aram DerManouelian, told the grand jury the company did not give customers detailed information about the materials used in the foam unless they asked for it.

They also said Warner testified before the grand jury that he did not warn the Derderians about the flammability of the foam.

Prosecutors said they gave grand jurors the relevant evidence to consider and argued that accusations of withheld evidence are inaccurate and unfair.

"It would have been both professionally irresponsible and legally unsound for prosecutors to have introduced the unattributed hearsay and innuendo contained in the fax to the grand jury," prosecutors wrote.

Daniel Biechele, the former tour manager for GREAT WHITE, the rock band whose pyrotechnics set off the fire, also faces 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter. He joined the Derderians' motion to dismiss the indictments last week.

The Derderians had already sought to dismiss the indictments, but their lawyers expanded on that request last Monday -- more than a week after receiving a copy of Warner's faxed note.

Prosecutors also denied misleading the grand jury about the role Jeffrey Derderian, a television reporter at the time of the fire, played in a news broadcast called "Burning Beds" that aired on a Boston station in 2001. In the story, Derderian said fire safety experts considered polyurethane foam -- the same type of foam the brothers installed in their club -- as "solid gasoline."

Defense lawyers said Derderian merely narrated the broadcast but did not report or write it. Prosecutors said the grand jury viewed the entire news report and was able to form its own conclusions "about what it was or was not and how much weight, if any, to assign it."

The criminal trial of the Derderians and Biechele is expected to begin sometime next year.

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