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That night, the warehouse was the location of an electronic music party that Harris had helped to plan. Almena often hosted for-profit concerts at the commune, even though it was not licensed for entertainment.
Oakland's Ghost Ship fire: one man acquitted of 36 deaths but jury deadlocked on second
The post was later deleted. Almena and Harris had both pleaded no contest to the charges as part of a plea deal, but a judge rejected the deal after he ruled that Almena had not shown sufficient remorse during the sentencing hearing. Many of the those who died that night came from within the community , including musicians, artists, students, creatives, teachers and photographers. The tragedy brought into focus the harsh reality of the housing crisis , and the hazardous conditions it was forcing local artists to accept in order to continue living and working in the Bay Area.
Following the fire, some were evicted from similar spaces. Attorneys for Harris and Almena attempted to turn the blame on the city of Oakland , arguing that officials responding to complaints could better spot potential fire hazards than a warehouse of artists. Victims and family members crowded into a hot hallway inside an Oakland courthouse, where they waited to enter the courtroom where the verdict would be read.
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The courtroom filled quickly and dozens of onlookers were turned away. After nearly an hour, Curtis Briggs, an attorney representing Harris, emerged from the courtroom and sighed as he hugged another member of the legal team. In a statement to the press after the verdict had been announced, Briggs and other lawyers for the defendants criticized city officials for failing to tackle the lack of affordable housing.
OAKLAND — A day after a jury acquitted Max Harris of 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in the Ghost Ship fire case, a juror said the decision came down to the wire, with one person refusing to find him innocent until the final days of deliberations. The jury voted to convict Almena. On Thursday evening, Harris, 29, walked out of Santa Rita Jail, got into a law enforcement vehicle and quietly left the Dublin facility through a side exit to meet waiting friends at a rendezvous point.
Around the same time, sources said, Almena was headed back to jail. The two friends who lived at the Ghost Ship warehouse together and then in a special wing of the jail after their June arrests crossed paths at the booking station for a final time. The San Lorenzo native said one juror was firm in believing Harris should face some responsibility. But when the jury returned on Monday from a weeklong vacation, Billings said her stance began to soften.
She eventually changed her vote to not guilty, giving the jury a unanimous decision. Jurors in the room applauded. Harris moved into the Fruitvale District warehouse in late , about a year after Almena signed a lease to rent the space from Chor Ng and her children, Kai and Eva Ng. The lease, which prohibited using the warehouse for large events or as a residence, is what persuaded Billings that Almena was guilty.
To me that let the Ngs off the hook.
Ghost Ship | Dorothy Cross | IMMA
Emails obtained by this news organization showed Kai Ng knew of the installation of a transformer in the body shop next door. A utility pole at the corner of 31st Avenue and International Boulevard supplied power to a mobile phone store, the body shop and the Ghost Ship through a hole in the wall.
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The 10,square-foot building was stuffed with pianos, RVs and wooden structures.