Ghost Ship Trial: Case turned over to jury

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OAKLAND (KRON) — The ghost ship fire trial has now been turned over to the jury but not before the prosecution got a second chance to make their case.

Alameda County Deputy DA Autry James did not hold back when wrapping up his rebuttal argument, raising his voice when he asked the jury, “If this place is so safe like those people said, why aren’t those 36-people here with us today?”

Answering his own question, he said, “Because it was a death trap.”

Outside the courthouse, the defense team took exception.

“The final argument of the prosecution was an emotional tirade,” Tony Serra, defense attorney For Derick Almena, said. “An emotional tirade is the last refuge of a dying cause.”

It was clear the prosecution took notes on the defense’s closing argument and came back the following day aiming to dismantle it point by point. 

 He started by replaying a jailhouse video of Derick Almena telling a reporter that the whole structure of his defense is pointing and blaming others. 

The DA told the jury that it is not a defense that the defendant didn’t know he was breaking the law. 

The prosecutor told the jury that Almena lied to everyone, created the deadly conditions and was indifferent to the consequences of his actions and that co-defendant Max Harris allowed people to come in knowing the hazardous condition of the building and was also indifferent to the consequences of his actions. 

Harris’ Attorney disagrees.

“It is relevant that they weren’t trained to understand what the fire code dictated,” Tyler Smith, defense attorney for Max Harris, said.

The jury finally having the evidence in their hands is a day that family members of the victims say they have long waited for.

“it’s not about retribution, being out for blood or any of that,” a family member of a victim said.

Both Almena and Harris face 36-counts of involuntary manslaughter. If convicted on all counts, they could receive anything from probation or up to 26 years in prison.

“I just hope and pray that there is justice,” a family member of a victim said.

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