Ghost Ship Trial: Defense begins presenting its case

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OAKLAND (KRON) — The defense opened its case in the Ghost Ship Fire Trial.

They began by calling a witness whose testimony supports the defense theory that the fire may have been arson.

The arson narrative is an argument the defense says is critical to their case.

Sharon Evans is perhaps the most important defense witness in the trial because Evans told an investigator for a civil attorney that she and a companion had just left a Friday night church meeting and stopped to get food from a taco wagon when she overheard over a dozen Hispanic men in dark hoodies laughing about setting the deadly Ghost Ship Fire back on Dec. 2, 2016.

However, the judge ruled against hearsay evidence.

It was looking like the jury would not hear that portion of her testimony until on cross-examination the prosecution played a portion on her interview with the civil attorney investigator that gave the defense the break they needed.

“It’s called the rule of completeness. The D.A. made a big mistake by using a transcript with the civil attorney Steven Drayer and they only used page one of the transcript. Their mistake is that by this evidence rule of completeness, other statement that she made in that interview are permitted to come in. So that was sort of the back door loophole that Tony was able to get the statements in through,” Max Harris’ attorney, Tyler Smith said.

Some family members of the victims say they find the witness less than credible.

“The timeline is off, shifting the blame to these twenty unknown Hispanic men, no, it doesn’t sound credible to me,” one family member said.

“It doesn’t really matter how it started. Could have been prevented and it wasn’t,” another said.

The second witness for the defense was Ghost Ship resident Michael Russell.

He testified that he was on a date night in his trailer when he overheard some people fighting shortly before the fire started.

“But he also testified and this was my first time hearing this, that he saw two or three people running out, people that he didn’t recognize,” Smith said.

>>The latest on the Ghost Ship trial

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