The two men charged with involuntary manslaughter for the fatal December 2016 Ghost Ship warehouse fire have accepted plea deals that will land them behind bars for nearly a decade, as originally reported by the East Bay Times. Last year, the men each pled not guilty to 36 charges of involuntary manslaughter at the Oakland, California art collective and warehouse.
Derick Almena, who’s largely been described as the Ghost Ship collective’s “creative director” and having turned the warehouse into a live-in DIY space, has accepted a plea deal with an equivalent to nine years in prison.
Max Harris, the collective’s “executive director,” has accepted a deal for just six years, according to an email sent from the Alameda County district attorney to the families of victims.
Almena and Harris faced up to 36 years in prison if found guilty. They were to serve one year in a local prison for each person killed at the December 2, 2016 fire at the warehouse’s 100% Silk party. Though the warehouse was zoned as a commercial space, Almena had been accused of allowing multiple people to live there and add unfit additions to the building, which included a flight of makeshift wooden stairs. The family of the warehouse owner still claims to this day that Almena told them no one was living in the building.
Back in June 2017, when the county had pressed charges against the two men, the Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said in a press conference that, “The defendants knowingly created a fire trap with inadequate means of escape. They are now facing the consequences of their actions. The paying guests at the event were faced with a nearly impossible labyrinth of the defendants’ making to get out of that building. Almena and Harris’ actions were reckless, and they created the high risk of death.”
Both the men are set to appear in court on Tuesday, July 3, where they are expected to accept their plea deals to avoid a jury trial that was scheduled to begin in a couple weeks.
Photo Credit: Jim Wilson