Thursday, 4:30 PM
Family members lash out at judge, club owners at Station sentencing
Defense attorney Richard Egbert (left), Station Night Club owners Michael and Jeffrey Derderian and defense attorney Kathleen M. Hagerty are seen during sentencing today at the Kent County Courthouse in Warwick, R.I.
By Megan Tench, Globe Staff, and Andrew Ryan, Globe Correspondent
The seething tension in the courtroom at the Station nightclub fire sentencing came to a head this morning when Jay McLaughlin took the stand and spoke of his hatred.
"Hatred of the club owner whose only concern was money, not safety of his patrons and employees," said McLaughlin, brother-in-law of Sandy and Michael Hoogasian, who died in the fire. "Hatred for the sniveling little coward who hid the money box in the snow while people were dying in the club."
Superior Court Judge Francis J. Darigan Jr. interrupted, "All right sir let's stick to the facts."
McLaughlin continued, "Hatred for the state who betrayed our loved ones ... "
The judge had had enough. Darigan pounded his gavel and said, "This court will be in recess."
The exchange marked the climax of an intense morning at the Kent County Court where the owners of the Station nightclub are being sentenced for a criminal case stemming from the Feb. 20, 2003 fire that left 100 dead.
In a letter sent to families last week, Darigan said he will sentence Michael Derderian to four years in prison and spare Jeffrey Derderian jail time through a suspended sentence and 500 hours of community service. The fire started after pyrotechnics were ignited and flames tore through the soundproofing foam the Derderians had installed throughout the club.
Families have expressed outrage at the plea bargain, which was negotiated behind closed doors. Darigan has scolded several of the family members reading victim impact statements and cut off spontaneous rounds of applause.
"Please refrain from any outbursts of any kind," Darigan said. "This is not a public forum."
Next to the main courtroom, an overflow crowd of more than 100 is watching the proceedings. The family members in that room and not constrained by the judge. At some points, relatives have yelled obscenities at the video screen. Other have stormed out to the room, too upset to watch.
Sarah Ballard, who lost her mother Sarah Telgarsky in the Station Nightclub fire, reads a victim impact statement during today's sentencing.
(AP Photo/Stew Milne)
David Kane, who lost his 18-year-old son Nicholas O'Neill in The Station nightclub fire, arrives for the sentencing this morning of Michael and Jeffrey Derderian at Kent County Superior Court in Warwick, R.I.