Ghost Ship lawyer reveals why jurors were dismissed from case

The defense attorney for Derick Almena in the Ghost Ship fire case told reporters on Thursday why three jurors were removed from the case in August.

Max Harris, 29, was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter and the jury was hung in the case of Almena, 49, who was also accused of involuntary manslaughter.

Outside of the Oakland courthouse where the trial concluded Thursday, Tony Serra, Almena’s attorney spoke with reporters under the belief that a gag order the judge on the case ordered had expired.

GHOST SHIP VERDICTS: 1 acquitted in deadly warehouse fire; jury deadlocks on 2nd

Serra told the reporters that the three jurors were let go after one of them spoke with a firefighter who was not a witness in the case and then shared what she heard with that firefighter with two of the other jurors.

According to Serra, the firefighter said that if they had gone into the Ghost Ship warehouse in 2014 or September 2016, then they would have reported the state of the building and required it to be inspected. This, he said, was part of the defense’s case.

After three new jurors were brought onto the case, a gag order was put in place, and they’d been deliberating the case since Aug. 26. In the case of Almena, the jury voted 10-2 in favor of conviction.

‘CAN’T PEOPLE MAKE DECISIONS ANYMORE?’: Ghost Ship verdicts shock Bay Area residents

The two men were charged with involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of 36 people in a warehouse fire that broke out during a music show in the Fruitvale neighborhood in East Oakland in December 2016.

Several Bay Area residents expressed shock at the verdicts on Thursday in the hours after they were announced.

Drew Costley is an SFGATE editorial assistant. Email: drew.costley@sfgate.com | Twitter: @drewcostley

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/tony-serra-ghost-ship-verdict-3-jurors-removed-14417707.php.

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