Ghost Ship Trial: Jury Wants to Rehear Testimony From Firefighter - NBC Bay Area
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Ghost Ship Trial: Jury Wants to Rehear Testimony From Firefighter

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Ghost Ship Trial: Jury Continues Deliberations

    Melissa Colorado provides the latest on the Ghost Ship trial.

    (Published Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019)

    The new jury in the Ghostship Warehouse trial wants to rehear testimony from an Oakland firefighter who was inside the warehouse years before the deadly fire.

    The firefighter previously testified that he sensed something was not right. The request indicates the jury has not made up their mind when it comes to master tenant Derick Almena.

    Jurors told the court they want to rehear parts of the testimony of Oakland Fire Capt. George Freelen. The firefighter worked just a block away from the warehouse and he testified that Almena gave him a tour two years before the fire that killed 36 people.

    Freelen testified that when he stepped inside, he noticed the warehouse was packed with RVs and pianos that posed a high fire risk. Freelen said he asked Almena if people were living in the warehouse and was told that no one was residing at the warehouse.

    Still, Freelen had concerns and he testified that he searched the department's internal database for information about the warehouse and could not find any. He said he filed a report with the fire prevention bureau asking for clarification, but never heard back. Freelen said he never followed up.

    Almena and Ghost Ship creative director Max Harris are charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the fire at the warehouse.

    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.

    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.

    Bay City News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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