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Court reverses E2 club stampede ruling

April 5, 2013 at 3:11 PM   |   Comments

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., April 5 (UPI) -- Illinois' Supreme Court overturned a ruling that acquitted two Chicago men of charges related to a 2003 stampede that killed 21 people at their E2 nightclub.

The Supreme Court's 7-0 ruling Thursday tossed out an appellate court's decision that reversed the convictions and two-year prison sentences of Calvin Hollins and Dwain Kyles, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The Supreme Court's decision does not explicitly reinstate the convictions and sentences of Hollins and Kyles, an attorney for one of the defendants said. It instead sends the case back to the appellate court for further review.

In 2002, Hollins and Kyles were ordered by a court to close the second floor of the nightclub. In 2003, there was a stampede at the club after pepper spray was used to break up a fight. Twenty-one people were killed and more than 50 were injured in a rush for the exits.

Hollins and Kyles were tried and found guilty of indirect criminal contempt charges and sentenced to two years in prison.

The appellate court reversed that conviction in 2011, stating the original court's order to close the second floor of the club was vague.

"Even if the orders could be viewed as forbidding only use of the mezzanine, the defendants had not complied even with this requirement," the Supreme Court said in its ruling.

"Had the appellate court considered the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, it would have concluded that [Hollins and Kyles] were proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of indirect criminal contempt because a rational jury could have found that they were fully aware of what the building court's orders prohibited and willfully disobeyed the orders," the Supreme Court concluded.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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