Negligent homicide is weird like that. It involves someone doing something stupid that just happens to kill people by accident. Sentencing someone for stupidity is tricky.
I agree. This man has ruined his own life through his carelessness, and he had no intention of harming anyone. I think the jail sentence is appropriate, though I can imagine that the families don't think so.
"Sentencing someone for stupidity is tricky."
I agree. You want a sufficintly harsh penalty -- not so much to punish as to make an example for others. I'm sure that the band manager realized that he had f'd up, and was sorry for it, just as soon as it happened. The bar owners should get harsher penalties, in my book, for using flammable materials inside the club. The Cocoanut Grove fire was a long time ago, and not too far from R.I. I thought that the lessons learned in that fire would stay learned. Apparently not.
I wasn't privvy to the original trial, but my understanding of involuntary manslaughter laws is that the prosecution must show that a reasonable person would have been able to foresee that the defendant's actions could cause death in roughly the same fashion that death actually occurred.
I would have argued (I don't know if the defense did) that while a reasonable person would have expected that the fireworks could cause a fire, a reasonable person would not have foreseen that such a fire could within three seconds grow beyond the abilities of fire extinguishers to deal with.