Jury Acquits 1 Man, Can't Reach Verdict on the Other in Ghost Ship Fire Trial

AP Photo/Ben Margot
Flowers are left at a makeshift memorial on Nov. 28, 2017, to those who died outside an art collective known as the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland, Calif.

A jury has acquitted one man of involuntary manslaughter but couldn’t reach a verdict for the leader of an artists’ commune accused of turning a California warehouse into a cluttered maze that trapped 36 partygoers during a fast-moving fire.

Jurors on Thursday (Sept. 5) found Max Harris not guilty but said they could not unanimously agree on whether to convict or acquit Derick Almena of involuntary manslaughter. They have deliberated since Aug. 26.

The December 2016 fire broke out during an electronic music party at the so-called Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland, killing 36 people.

Prosecutors allege the men were criminally negligent when they illegally converted the building into a residence for artists and held unpermitted events.

The defendants said government workers failed to raise concerns about fire hazards in the warehouse.


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