Ghost Ship leaseholder & tenant charged with involuntary manslaughter
This past December, a horrific fire at Oakland DIY space Ghost Ship left 36 dead. Now, leaseholder Derick Almena and tenant Max Harris were each charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter, CNN reports.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said Almena and Harris "knowingly created a fire trap with inadequate means of escape. They then filled that area with human beings and are now facing the consequences of their action."
According to the probable cause document, Alemna "allowed and encouraged tenants to use nonconventional building materials that he collected to create their living spaces. These nonconventional building materials included recycled dry wood, such as fence boards, shingles, window frames, wooden sculptures, tapestries, pianos, organs, wooden furniture, RV trailers, rugs, and other ramshackle pieces."
Almena's attorneys said, "We intend to vigorously defend him in the court of law. We believe that these charges represent no less than a miscarriage of justice, and we are confident that this attempt to make a scapegoat out of our client will fail."
They were arrested yesterday and could face up to 39 years in prison if convicted of all charges.
After the fire, Almena spoke about the incident, saying "My goal has been nothing less than to create an environment for art and creativity in our community. During this investigation please continue to show support and compassion for those affected by this tragedy. The prayers of my family and I go out to the families of the victims."