Ghost Ship warehouse fire: Derick Almena to get 9 years in plea deal
01/14/2021 9:48 am PST
LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- The founder of an Oakland arts collective in the Ghost Ship Warehouse that caught fire in 2016, killing 36 people inside, will receive a plea deal in which he will be sentenced to nine years in state prison.
Relatives of the victims were told Wednesday morning that Derick Almena will be sentenced to nine years in state prison instead of facing a third trial on 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter, according to two relatives of victims who lost their lives in the 2016 blaze.
- TRUE CRIME DAILY: Ghost Ship case coverage - TCD
The Los Angeles Times reports Almena was released from custody because of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, and prosecutors told victims he will receive credit for most of the nine-year sentence already since he had been jailed for nearly three years after his July 2017 arrest. Under the terms of the deal, Almena will be allowed to serve out the rest of his sentence under house arrest, the victims said.
The plea deal still has to be accepted during a hearing scheduled for Jan. 22, according to the Times.
Prosecutors had accused Almena of extreme negligence, arguing he turned the bare-bones East Oakland warehouse into a death trap through a series of illegal construction projects and shoddy electrical work. There were nearly 100 people inside at the time the fire broke out during a concert, and prosecutors said Almena's co-defendant Max Harris had closed off one of only two exit routes.
KRON-TV reports Oakland reached a settlement with the families of the victims of more than $32 million. In the wake of the 2016 fire, the city hired a new fire chief and changed many of the building enforcement codes.
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