Ghost Ship Trial: Defense takes aim at how evidence was collected

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OAKLAND (KRON) — ATF Certified Fire Investigator Barbara Maxwell was back on the witness stand Thursday finishing up her direct examination in the Ghost Ship Trial.

The prosecution continued the effort to poke holes in the defense theory of arson being the cause of the fire with this line of questioning: Regarding the timeline, at this point has anyone said anything about seeing strangers near the location of the fire? The sound of glass breaking? Any evidence that an accelerant was used? An explosion consistent with a Molotov cocktail?

The ATF investigator’s answer was no across the board On cross examination, the courtroom learned that Oakland police secured the outer perimeter while evidence was collected and the joint task force consisting of the ATF, Oakland Fire and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office worked together securing the evidence collected inside the ghost ship.

Defense attorney Curtis Briggs took aim.

“It was essentially disorganization and incompetence that led to the inconclusive result in the cause and origin report,” Briggs said.

After establishing the method used to collect evidence to make the final cause and origin report, Maxwell told the court that all non evidence left at the scene was turned over to the insurance investigators representing the owner of the building.

Briggs questions that arrangement.

“It is very unusual for a prosecution team to turn over a crime scene and evidence to somebody who is potentially at fault and the owner is potentially at fault here,” Briggs said.

The morning recess happened earlier than usual after Maxwell became emotionally overwhelmed recalling a Ghost Ship resident telling her that he had to leave another resident behind as the warehouse became engulfed in flames.

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