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Figure in fatal R.I. nightclub fire to testify against owners

Says he got OK for pyrotechnics

Associated Press / February 19, 2006
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PROVIDENCE -- A tour manager who ignited pyrotechnics that sparked a catastrophic fire in a West Warwick nightclub will testify for the state during the criminal trial of the club's owners, according to court documents.

Daniel Biechele, 29, will be called as a state witness during the trials of Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, court papers filed by Attorney General Patrick Lynch's office show.

Each brother faces 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the 100 deaths in The Station fire. No trial dates have been set.

Biechele pleaded guilty this month to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter for his role in the Feb. 20, 2003, fire. As part of a plea agreement, he will serve no more than 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors said Biechele was expected to testify ''consistent with" statements he gave investigators just hours after the fire and in later interviews. When Biechele pleaded guilty, he told a judge that Michael Derderian had given him permission to use pyrotechnics inside the club as part of the band's show. A lawyer for the Derderians has denied the claim.

Court papers also show that prosecutors expect testimony from Aram DerManouelian, the owner of Johnston-based American Foam, which sold the foam to the Derderians.

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