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Ghost Ship trial defendants taking plea bargains for less-than-10-year sentences

Ghost Ship interior before the fire

Derick Almena and Max Harris are, according to The East Bay Times, expected plead no contest in 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter connected to the horrific December 2, 2016 fire at Oakland’s Ghost Ship warehouse. The plea deals will give Almena, who was the leaseholder on the Ghost Ship space, nine years behind bars; Harris, the “executive director” of Ghost Ship, will get six years. The East Bay Times also reports that they’ll serve their sentences locally at Alameda County Jail instead of State Prison. Their trial was to have started July 16. More:

Sami Kopelman, is the mother of 34-year-old Edmond Lapine, a man passionate about music, who had gone that night to see his friend, Joey “Casio” Matlock perform. Both perished in the fire.

She told the Bay Area News Group that the sentiment with offering this deal to the defendants is that the district attorney’s office has other things to do, and aren’t devoting their full attention to a negligent involuntary manslaughter case.

“It’s as though they said ‘let’s get this one out of the way… so we can deal with these murders… and give those the max attention’,” she said Monday.

Kopelman, who lives in Washington, said she would have liked to see each defendant receive 36 years in prison, one for each of the lives lost.

“I don’t want my son’s life or those of the other victims, no matter what their circumstances were for being there, I don’t want the value of their lives to be lessened by a sweep aside,” Kopelman said.

Almena and Harris are expected to formally accept their plea deals on Tuesday, July 3 before Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris.

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