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No new plea deals in ‘Ghost Ship’ warehouse fire case, DA says

Max Harris, left, and Derick Almena have served, six and nine years, respectively, in the context of a plea agreement rejected by an Alameda County judge.

(Alameda County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

A Northern California district attorney has said that a court that they no longer consider the plea offers for the two men charged in case of a fire in an abandoned Oakland warehouse death of 36 people in December 2016.

In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’malley asked the judge for a scheduled trial date for Derick Almena and Max Harris. Both men are scheduled to return to court Friday.

Last week, Judge James Cramer rejected plea deals that saw Almena and Harris plead guilty to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the deadly blaze during an electronic dance music concert in the so-called “Ghost Ship” warehouse.

The San Francisco Chronicle that Crame explicitly rejected Almena plea deal, the citing of an essay the 48-year-old wrote to his probation officer. In that letter, the paper reported, Almena blame others for the fire and described himself as a victim. Cramer said that showed that Almena has not yet fully accepted responsibility for his role in the tragedy. The judge’s ruling also cancelled Harris agreement.

Under the terms of the deal, Almena and Harris would be sentenced to nine and six years, respectively, in the prison of the province. However, both men were expected to serve only half their sentences with credit for good behavior and time served.

The researchers said Almena, 48, rented the warehouse and illegally converted into an amusement arcade and homes, while Harris, 28, helped him with collecting rent and scheduling concerts as the place of the night of the fire.

Almena lived in the warehouse with his wife and three children. The family stayed in a nearby hotel on the night of the fire. Harris has also been in the warehouse and escaped the fire unharmed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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