Two of the three jurors dismissed from the Ghost Ship trial broke court order and could be held in contempt for misconduct, Judge Trina Thompson said Tuesday.
Thompson, who said the misconduct incident occurred last Thursday, still needs more information on the third “non-offending” juror.
The details released Tuesday come a day after three jurors were replaced with alternatives in the trial of two men charged with involuntary manslaughter stemming from the 2016 Oakland warehouse fire.
The changes in the jury means deliberations must now start over.
Thirty-six people died in the blaze during a party at the so-called Ghost Ship warehouse back in December 2016.
The prosecution has accused Derick Almena and Max Harris of 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter. Almena and Harris face a maximum term of 39 years in state prison if they are convicted on all 36 counts.
The trial started on April 30 with 12 jurors and six alternates, but there’s now only one alternate left, as Thompson previously dismissed one juror on May 1, the second day of the trial, for undisclosed reasons and dismissed another juror on May 9 for what she described as “veracity issues.”
Prosecutors allege that Almena and Harris are criminally responsible for the fire because the people at the party didn’t have the time or opportunity to escape the blaze since the warehouse lacked important safeguards such as fire sprinklers, smoke alarms and lighted exit signs.
Prosecutors also allege that Almena and Harris violated the terms of the building’s lease, which only called for it to be used as a warehouse for an artists’ collective, by turning it into a living space for up to 25 people and hosting underground music parties there.
But defense attorneys allege that the fire was an act of arson that Almena and Harris couldn’t have prevented and say firefighters, police officers and other authorities who visited the building before the deadly fire never told the two men that they thought it was unsafe or that they needed to make changes to bring it up to code.
The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.
This post was originally posted at http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Jurors-Ghost-Ship-Trial-Held-Contempt-Misconduct-556749041.html.