OAKLAND, California. – Two men who accepted a deal in exchange for, each pleaded no contest to 36 charges of involuntary manslaughter in connection with a California warehouse fire will likely be released from prison after serving only half their sentences.
It is typical for spain detainees who love a good disciplinary record to be released after serving half of their terms and conditions.
Judge James Cramer on Friday is expected to sentence 48-year-old Derick Almena to nine years in prison and 28-year-old Max Harris six years, although the relatives of the victims of the 2016 blaze in Oakland against the proposed sentences as too lenient.
Tears, the grieving family members testified Thursday about their losses and asked Cramer to reject the deal, but he gave no indication that he would comply with the request.
A prosecutor said the two men had the shed in a residential area “drop dead” by cluttering with highly flammable knick-knacks, the block of the building is the number of turns, and not adequate safety measures for inviting the public inside.
Speakers at the hearing also criticized the city, about the devastating fire.
“The city of Oakland must be held responsible” for not checking and exit of the warehouse, Colleen Dolan, said as she showed a picture of her smiling 33-year-old daughter, Chelsea Dolan, that was a few weeks before her death.
Dolan also tried to order a coroner’s photo of her daughter and her charred body, but Cramer gently interrupted her and said that he had seen before.
“I had a kiss that burned body goodbye,” Dolan said, agree. “I’m angry and deprived.”
A moment later, Cramer politely interrupted Paul Matiasic, attorney read in a statement from Sami Long Koppelman, whose 34-year-old son, Edmond William Lapine, was killed.
Mataiasic asked the judge rhetorically if he had ever lost a child.
“Yes, I have,” Cramer said with a sad smile. “Just so you know.”
A lot of people in the courtroom gasped. The court did not elaborate on.
Cyrus Hoda, the brother of the victim, Sarah Hoda, 30, said the plea bargain was a “sweetheart deal” and tagged Almena and Harris as “culture vultures” trying to become the San Francisco Bay Area arts players by the lure of people to a dangerous place to live and party.
Almena’s wife and three children also lived in the warehouse, but stayed in a nearby hotel the night of the fire. His wife, Micah, Allison, and one of their daughters sat quietly in court next to the grieving families.
Dressed in the prison garb, Almena looked without emotions the survivors as they testified, while Harris stared at the judge, who gave permission for the plea deal last month.
Cramer told the relatives of the victims to try to control their emotions during testimony, which he said would be “a heart-wrenching to hear such as that associated with the great loss in this case.”
Almena and Harris could have for life in prison if convicted in a trial. They have already over a year behind bars.
Researchers from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said they were not able to determine the cause of the fire.
The relatives of the victims allege in lawsuits that the Oakland Fire department failed to check the warehouse annually is needed, and that the inspectors would have discovered the illegal conversions.
Alex Katz, a spokesman for the city attorney, declined to comment.
The lawsuits also claim Pacific Gas & Electric Co. not properly check, inspect and repair of electrical equipment which the power to the warehouse.
PG&E said in a statement that he has cooperated with the investigation and that a review of the records found no electrical problems at the building in the 10 years before the fire.
Warehouse owner Chor Ng, which has not yet been charged, did not return a text message seeking comment.