Ghost Ship Trial: Jury Reaches Verdict

A verdict has been reached in the trial against two men charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the deadly 2016 Oakland warehouse fire.

The verdict is expected to be read at 2 p.m.

Judge Trina Thompson on Aug. 19 replaced three jurors with replacements. Two of the three jurors that were dismissed from the trial may be held in contempt for misconduct, Thompson said.

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.

Prosecutors said Almena and Harris disregarded the safety of others when they illegally converted the warehouse into a residence for artists and threw unpermitted parties there.

Inside the Oakland 'Ghost Ship' Warehouse Inside the Oakland ‘Ghost Ship’ Warehouse

Almena, 49, rented the warehouse initially for the purpose of building theatrical sets inside, but then he quickly sublet the space to other artists and filled it with highly combustible materials that fueled the fire. Harris, 29, is accused of helping Almena convert the warehouse, collect rent and coordinate parties there.

During trial, the men’s attorneys raised the possibility it was caused by arsonists and argued that others shared the blame for the fire, including the city of Oakland, its fire department and the warehouse’s landlord.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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