GREAT WHITE: Families Of Fire Victims To Speak At Tour Manager's Sentencing

The Associated Press has issued the following report:

James Gahan III still does not know what he plans to say at the sentencing of Daniel Biechele, the man whose pyrotechnics sparked a nightclub fire that killed Gahan's 21-year-old son, Jimmy, and 99 other people.

He wants his words to be lasting and helpful, not vengeful, when he speaks at the hearing that begins May 8 and likely will last several days. It will be first opportunity for families of the victims to speak in open court about the devastating effect of the fire.

Gahan has been struggling with what to say.

"As soon as you set something down on paper, it's not enough," he said.

Dozens of family members have asked to speak before Biechele is sentenced for 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter. He could serve up to 10 years in prison as part of a plea deal.

Biechele was the tour manager for the rock band GREAT WHITE when he set off pyrotechnics as the band took the stage on Feb. 20, 2003, at The Station nightclub in West Warwick. The sparks ignited flammable foam on the club's walls and ceiling and quickly engulfed the building. More than 200 people were injured in what was the fourth-deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history.

As of Thursday, 33 relatives of the victims were signed up to deliver impact statements, and that number may still go up, said Michael Healey, a spokesman for the attorney general's office. Ten other family members have written remarks that a prosecutor will read during the hearing.

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