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May 10, 2006

Four-year sentence in The Station nightclub fire

As detailed in this news report from Rhode Island, "Superior Court Judge Francis J. Darigan today sentenced Daniel Biechele to 15 years in prison, with four to serve and 11 years suspended, for his role in setting off the disastrous Station nightclub fire."  (Responding to this recent post about the case, commentors were in the ballpark with their predictions.)  Here are more details from the news report:

The sentence brought gasps from some of those in the courtroom, and some family members later expressed anger.  "This is a total travesty of justice. This boy is going to walk in four years. Is my brother and sister-in-law going to come home? No," said Theo Suffoletto, who lost his brother and sister-in-law Benjamin and Linda Suffoletto. Diane Mattera, mother of Tammy Mattera-Housa, walked from the courthouse, crying, shaking her head and saying, "Four years, 100 people."

In handing down the much-anticipated sentence, Darigan noted Biechele's sense of remorse, good background, potential for rehabilitation and willingness to accept responsibility.  He also took great pains to explain the differences between charges related to causing the death of another, from murder to involuntary manslaughter.

A helpful colleague watching on CourtTV informed me of the particulars of the sentencing proceeding, which seemed rich with drama and thoughtful discussion of sentencing purposes (and was free of guideline calculations).  Additional press coverage is available here and here.

It will be interesting to hear reactions in the hours and days ahead.

UPDATE:  TalkLeft has this extended post about the sentencing of Daniel Biechele, which points to this AOL page where you can vote whether you think the sentence is "about right" or "too harsh" or "too light." As of 6pm, with nearly 25,000 votes, 38% of respondents are calling the sentence about right while 31% are calling the sentence too harsh and another 31% are calling it too light.

May 10, 2006 at 04:57 PM | Permalink

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