OAKLAND (KRON) – For the first time, Derick Almena, the master tenant of the Ghost Ship Warehouse that caught fire in 2016, killing 36 people, took the stand on Monday in his own trial.
Almena is facing 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the 2016 fire.
Almena appeared to be ghost white when taking the stand, according to KRON4’s Michelle Kingston who appeared in court.
When he was asked to spell his name, he only got through his first name and couldn’t even spell Almena before having to take a break to wipe tears.
Almena finally was able to spell his name, when his attorney, Tony Serra, asked him, ‘how ya doing Derick?’
“Tired, broken hearted, I’m just so sad,” Almena responded, all while crying. “I built something, I dreamed something, I attracted beautiful people to my space.”
He was asked if he feels remorse or resentment. Almena said forever, and that there’s no word to describe it.
“I feel death. I feel loss of life forever. They were beautiful, beautiful people,” Almena said.
He was wiping away tears for most of the hour he was on the stand Monday.
Almena said he believed the warehouse was safe and that he would have never exposed his children to the risk of fire. He lived in the warehouse with his wife and three kids.
He said he wouldn’t expose anyone to danger.
Almena’s wife and children were not in the courtroom. His wife did testify two weeks ago.
Almena returns to the stand on Tuesday morning.