The trial has begun for Derick Almena and Max Harris, the two suspects allegedly responsible for the Ghost Ship warehouse fire that killed 36 people in 2016.
During the first day of the trial, Prosecutor Casey Bates read out the names of those who tragically lost their lives, including 100% Silk affiliated artists Cherushii and Nackt. Bates also said, "they all died because there was no notice, time or exits”.
Almena and Harris are charged with 36 counts of manslaughter and pleaded no contest to the charges. Last summer they were sentenced to nine and six years in prison respectively, but Judge James Crame rejected the deal due to the lack of remorse shown by Almena. The victims’ families also objected to the sentences because they said it was too lenient.
Now if both men are convicted of all charges, they could face 36 years in prison each.
The attorneys for both men previously said that a central argument for their defense will be that a specific cause of the fire has never been concluded. Almena’s attorney said he will argue that an arsonist could have started the fire. Harris’ attorney also stated that others should share blame for the tragedy, including the city of Oakland, its fire department and the warehouse’s landlord.
Families of the victims remain hopeful that further civil cases against Oakland city officials and the warehouse owner Chor Ng will provide more closure, however these are not scheduled until October.
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Harrison is Mixmag's US Editor. Follow him on Twitter here