Justice took the day off Wednesday when Cook County Associate Judge Daniel Gillespie ordered Dwain Kyles and Calvin Hollins to go to directly to jail. He took little time denying their bid to stay out of prison while they appeal a contempt of court conviction related to code violations at the defunct E2 nightclub, where 21 young club-goers perished during a 2003 stampede.
"I believe the sentence that was entered was fair," Gillespie said.
Standing by his earlier -- and unprecedented -- decision to send Kyles and Hollins to prison for two years, Gillespie agreed to "respectfully disagree" that all the facts hadn't been considered. He declined to hear from more than 40 supporters sitting in Room 1307 at Daley Center, including Cook County Clerk David Orr and Ald. Walter Burnett. Actress Lisa Raye showed up to offer support.
But it was City of Chicago Atty. Walter Jones who laid it on thick, falsely repeating several times that the two business associates were responsible for the Feb. 17, 2003 deaths of 21 young club-goers, many of whom were parents:
"What they forget is a jury of their peers has found them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They're no longer shrouded by a presumption of innocence," said Jones, his voice echoing off the walls where proceedings had previously been subdued. "There's no reason to delay. It's time to go to jail."
In fact, a previous judge ruled Kyles and Hollins couldn't be held responsible for the deaths that occurred that fateful night two women got into a catfight over a man and a DJ ordered security personnel to spray pepper spray to quell the disturbance. Judge Daniel Lynch issued the acquittal mid-way through the trial, citing lack of evidence.
How many times have we seen the convicted stay out of prison while they appeal? Besides, it's obvious Kyles and Hollins are being used as scapegoats. Their supporters -- including victims' families -- are suspicious of the rush to lock them up and throw away the key when so many unanswered questions remain. And Kyles and Hollins are left twisting till Jan. 5, when they're to report to lockup.
Cheryl Rainey, aunt of the late Nicole Rainey, asks:
• What really happened during the 42-minutes where videos show police and fire personnel outside the club doing nothing to pull the crushed bodies out of the narrow hallway where they ultimately perished?
• What happened to footage of 11 of 16 security cameras seized by police? That footage would likely show police and fire personnel walking around the club, as paramedics had been called earlier to attend to a pregnant woman in distress. In addition, police were inside the club -- while people were begging to be pulled apart -- confiscating documents and equipment from Kyles' office.
• Why, Rainey asked, did the City of Chicago prosecute the building's renter instead of its owner?
• And the linchpin of the entire case -- whether the club should have been open at all -- is easily answered by a judge's instructions, called a "half-sheet." It states only the VIP area was to be closed. Jurors were not allowed to see this document.
Why not, when this document would explain so much?