California's Ghost Ship Trial: Witness Dies Before Testifying

  • Source: NBC Los Angeles
  • Published: 05/08/2019 12:00 AM

Monday marked the first day of testimony in the trial of two men accused in the Oakland warehouse fire that left 36 people dead more than two years ago. Derick Almena, 49, and Max Harris, 29, have been jailed since their arrest in June 2017. Prosecutors say Almena rented the warehouse and Harris acted as "creative director," helping book concerts and collect rent. The two defendants are accused of failing to provide adequate safety equipment, exits and signage. Before testimony began Monday, a stunning twist was announced: a key witness who once called the Ghost Ship a "death trap" died Sunday in a vehicle crash in San Pablo, according to the prosecution. Robert Jacobitz was an electrician who worked for Almena, and the prosecution was likely planning to grill Jacobitz about the warehouse’s electrical system and whether or not Almena made any improvements or repairs to make the warehouse safer.


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