Friends and families of the 36 people who died in one of California’s deadliest structure fires will get to confront the two men held responsible for the tragedy during a hearing Thursday and Friday that will close a chapter in the Ghost Ship warehouse criminal case.
In addition to sharing poignant testimony about their loved ones’ lives and their feelings of loss, some family members may lash out at what they consider light sentences negotiated behind closed courtroom doors. The two defendants also are expected to address the judge and the victims’ assembled families.
Derick Almena, 48, and Max Harris, 28, pleaded no contest in a plea deal last month to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of 36 people who had gathered for a party the night of Dec. 2, 2016, and perished in the inferno that engulfed a warehouse in East Oakland that since was determined to be a fire trap.
To give each victim’s family enough time to speak, two days were dedicated to the sentencing hearing.