Ghost Ship Warehouse Trial: Jury Resumes Deliberations After Break, No Verdict

Thirty-six people died in the blaze during a party at the so-called Ghost Ship warehouse back in December 2016

Deliberations in the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse trial resumed Tuesday after a nearly two-week break, and no verdict was reached.

Before the break, three jurors were dismissed and replaced. Two of the three jurors that were dismissed from the trial may be held in contempt for misconduct, Judge Trina Thompson previously said.

The three replacement jurors likely have a lot of catching up to do, defense attorneys said. Thompson warned jurors again not to talk to anyone about the case.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors waited all day Tuesday for a note from the jury, but it was radio silence from the seven women and five men.

Tyler Smith, attorney for Max Harris, said any juror likely would be needing to sort of ... test their memory banks to see how far back they remember what the first witnesses said.

Ghost Ship warehouse master tenant Derick Almena and creative director Harris are charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter for a fire at a music party at the 10,000-square-foot warehouse in the 1300 block of 31st Avenue in Oakland's Fruitvale district, which served as an artists' collective, that killed 36 people the night of Dec. 2, 2016.

The lengthy case, which began on April 30, was submitted to jurors on July 31. The revised jury panel last met in court on Aug. 21. At the beginning of the case, Judge Thompson scheduled a break from late August until after Labor Day so jurors had time to transport their children to college. 

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.

Photos: Inside the Oakland 'Ghost Ship' Warehouse Building Before It Caught Fire

Almena, 49, rented the warehouse initially for the purpose of building theatrical sets inside, but then he quickly sublet the space to other artists and filled it with highly combustible materials that fueled the fire. Harris, 29, is accused of helping Almena convert the warehouse, collect rent and coordinate 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.

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

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