Background on Dan Biechele
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Before hitting the road with Great White as the band's tour manager, Dan Biechele got on-the-job experience working with pyrotechnics when he was with the 1980s rock band, W.A.S.P.
Biechele, 27, had managed touring musicians for more than six years when he took the stage in a tiny Rhode Island town, setting up and lighting a fiery display of fireworks popular with heavy metal bands and their fans.
What went without a hitch most other nights caused a catastrophic series of events on the night of Feb. 20. The pyrotechnics set ablaze foam that surrounded the stage, and hundreds of concertgoers got trapped as they fled for the doors to escape the smoke and flames.
On Tuesday, Biechele was indicted on 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter -- two counts for each of the 100 people who perished. He pleaded innocent to the charges in Kent County Superior Court, and left the courtroom to post $100,000 surety bail with the clerk.
"He is a trusted professional. He is regarded by colleagues as thoughtful and meticulous," his attorney, Tom Briody, said shortly after the fire.
Biechele, the tour manager for Great White, hasn't spoken publicly about the fire. He has since moved from California to Florida, and remains the least known of the three people charged in the fire. The owners of The Station nightclub also were indicted.
Biechele set up Great White's pyrotechnic display before the band took the stage. Just moments into the band's first song, sparks from the fireworks set fire to flammable foam that had been placed on the club's walls as soundproofing.
According to court documents, Biechele told investigators he had paperwork outlining the band's general use of pyrotechnics, but that all the documents specific to the show were destroyed in the fire.
Biechele was not licensed to set off pyrotechnics in the state of Rhode Island. A lawyer for Great White said he wasn't sure if Biechele had special training in pyrotechnics, or if his past experience using them was considered when he was hired last year.
Briody declined comment when asked recently if Biechele's experience with pyrotechnics were considered when Great White hired him. He also said he couldn't comment on where his client is currently working, if he is, what kind of job he is doing or where is he living.
Briody said in February that Biechele confirmed The Station wanted pyrotechnics with a high-ranking club representative almost a week before the performance that led to the fire. "Any suggestion that Great White did not have permission to display pyrotechnics is simply false," Briody said.
Club owners Michael and Jeff Derderian -- who also pleaded innocent Tuesday to involuntary manslaughter charges -- said through their attorneys that they never discussed pyrotechnics with the band or Biechele.
Briody described his client as "a remarkably mature, hard working young man." He said Biechele cooperated with investigators during their criminal probe and had "voluntarily returned to this state to accept the service of a Grand Jury subpoena when he had no legal obligation to do so."
After the fire, Briody said Biechele experienced vicious threats, taunts and obscenities by e-mail and voicemail. He has advised his client not to speak with the media.