Jury Begins Deliberations in Oakland Ghost Ship Warehouse Trial

The jury in the trial for two men charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the deadly Oakland warehouse fire started deliberations Wednesday after closing arguments wrapped.

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

The prosecution has accused Derick Almena and Max Harris of 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter. 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.

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 jury returns to court Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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