Ghost Ship operators plead not guilty to involuntary manslaughter
Last December, 36 people perished in a deadly blaze at the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland when the venue caught fire during a underground dance party. This past summer, two of Ghost Ship’s proprietors were arrested and each charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter. Derick Almena and Max Harris have now pleaded not guilty, according to an East Bay Times report. Harris acted as the creative director, while Almena led the artist collective and the building’s acting master tenant.
Almena and Harris entered their pleas Sept. 27 in Oakland’s Alameda County Superior Court. Outside the courtroom, defense lawyers reported that others were at fault for the tragedy, calling the charges “unfair” as well as citing the building’s owner as criminally negligent. A preliminary hearing is set for November 13. Prosecutors say the two men could face up to 39 years in prison. Local fire department officials called the tragedy California’s “deadliest building fire since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.”
Photo courtesy of Santiago Mejia, The San Francisco Chronicle