R.I. AG Seeks Public Access to Station Nightclub Evidence

November 21, 2006

Attorney General Patrick Lynch has asked a state judge to allow public access to key evidence collected during the investigation and prosecution of the deadly Station nightclub fire.

Lynch filed a motion with Superior Court Francis J. Darigan Jr. to open some Station investigation records, including forensic tests, flammability tests on the nightclub’s ceiling foam and expert witness statements on issues including club overcrowding.

He also requested financial records related to the bankruptcy case of nightclub owners Michael and Jeffrey Derderian.

The fire in February 2003 was started by a pyrotechnics display by the band Great White and killed 100 people. Michael Derderian and Daniel Biechele, Great White’s former tour manager, were both sentenced to four years in prison. Jeffrey Derderian was sentenced to probation.

Lynch’s request last Friday comes after a public records request filed last month by The Providence Journal. The Associated Press and The Boston Globe have also submitted separate records requests.

State law requires public agencies, upon request, to either make records public or cite a legal exemption before a deadline. The deadline in The Journal’s case was Thursday. Lynch refused on Thursday to release any records, citing privacy concerns and orders issued by Darigan.

Lynch’s spokesman, Michael Healey, said Darigan issued orders barring the release of investigation materials. Healey said if Darigan removes the orders, Lynch would release as much information as he could under the state Access to Public Records law, including witness statements and sentencing information. Some photographs would be released, but none so grisly they violated the rights of victims, Healey said.

A separate case seeking grand jury records and testimony is still pending in Superior Court. The records include the statements of Dennis LaRocque, the West Warwick fire code inspector who said the building was safe.


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