Ghost Ship Trial: Victims’ final texts messages revealed

Bay Area

OAKLAND (KRON) — Prosecution witness Adam Kennon testified that he was outside smoking a cigarette when he heard someone yelling fire.

Kennon was one of three witnesses who took the stand Monday at the Ghost Ship Trial in Oakland.

Kennon told the court that he is an unlicensed carpenter who lived at the Ghost Ship for a year and a half.

On direct examination, he testified there were no fire sprinklers in the warehouse.

He said there were a pair of smoke detectors downstairs that he purchased.

When questioned about the stability of the stairs, he said the stairs were fine.

“In fact, those stairs were not dangerous. Those stairs were one of the few things standing after the fire,” Curtis Briggs, defense attorney for Max Harris, said. “We have an experienced carpenter who says he went up those stairs thousands of times, at least a thousand times and that he never had an issue with those stairs. Those stairs were viable stairs. Those stairs saved lives.”

Adam Kennon testified that while he was a resident at Ghost Ship he saw Oakland Police, Child Protective Services and the Oakland Fire Department inside the warehouse on several occasions.

“Yeah. Five to ten visits from CPS officials. Two off duty firefighters actually attended a party there. Saw police there on at least two occasions,” Briggs said. “For us, it means if those people wouldn’t have known, then 28-year-old Max Harris, an art student wouldn’t have known that there was any danger.”

The court day began with a pair of tearful witnesses reading the last text messages that they received from two victims who died in the fire.

One text read, ‘I love you,’ followed by a second text that simply read, ‘fire.’

“The prosecution wants to bring them in because they want to build up the emotion involved because that is an advantage that they have and they want to exploit,” Briggs said.

On Monday, KRON4 reporters Haaziq Madyun and Michelle Kingston went to court in Oakland. Here are notes from the trial:

Adam Kennon:

  • Lived at the warehouse for a year and a half
  • Saw at least three people leave the warehouse the night of the fire who he did not know, just as the building started to smell like smoke
  • He was smoking a cigarette when he first heard someone yell ‘fire’
  • He testified there were no fire sprinklers and that he saw Oakland police, CPS and the fire department inside the warehouse on several occasions

Alexis Abrams-Bourke:

  • Tearfully read a text message from a victim, Nick Walwrath that said, ‘I love you’ and ‘fire’
  • Also fought back tears reading text from a friend, Nicole Seigrist, also known as Denalda, ‘There’s a fire here’

Dr. Michael Fernac, M.D.:

  • He was a Forensic Pathologist
  • Performed autopsies on 11 victims
  • Below are victims and the percentage of carbon monoxide in their bodies at their time of death:
    • Jason McCarty 47%

    • Donna Kellogg 64%

    • Justin Fritz, aka Feral Pines 58%

    • Nicole Seigrist 62%

    • Benjamin Runnels 69%

    • Draven McGill 60%

    • Michele Sylvan 59%

    • Matthew Bohlka 61%

    • Jonathan Bernbaum 43%

    • Barrett Clark 35%

    • William Dixon 56%

William Bardsley, SFPD Officer, formally of OPD:

  • Worked for OPD on Dec 3. 2014 when supervising patrol squad at the Ghost Ship where we saw in body cam footage, they question Derick Almena about anyone living in the warehouse. Derick said no one lived here. Bardsley says he didn’t see any of his officers go inside the warehouse.

David Harlan, an engineer for the planning and building department of the City of Oakland:

  • No records of permits for the warehouse to be used as assembly or residence. Only a storage permit which was filed in 1951.

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