Plea deal accepted in R.I. club fire

Published: Wednesday, February 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 31, 2006 at 11:37 p.m.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The former manager of the heavy metal rock group Great White has agreed to plead guilty to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter for his role in a 2003 nightclub fire that killed 100 people.
Daniel Biechele, 29, will enter the plea next Tuesday and serve no more than 10 years in state prison under a deal with prosecutors, a judge said.
In Gainesville, Ann Shubert, mother of 39-year-old Mitch Shubert of Newberry, who was killed in the fire while visiting a friend, said it's a "good thing" that Biechele will spend time in prison and that the victims' families won't have to go through a trial.
She said the plea deal will likely speed up several pending civil trials, including three lawsuits filed by relatives on her son's behalf.
Since her son's death, Shubert, 73, said the family is struggling to support her son's three children.
"I still relive everything over and over again," Shubert told The Sun in a phone interview Tuesday. "I think (Biechele) deserves a harsher punishment, but he's going to suffer for the rest of his life living with his foolish act."
Also charged in the deadly fire are club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian. Each of the men are charged with 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter for allegedly installing the flammable foam in violation of the state fire code.
The three defendants were charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for each of the 100 people killed. One count per death alleged criminal negligence, the other accused the defendants of committing underlying offenses that led to the deaths.
Sun staff writer Deborah Ball contributed to this report.

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