Ghost Ship Trial: 3 jurors replaced with alternates; panel must restart deliberations

Monday, August 19, 2019
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Four months into the trial, 10 days into deliberations and now the jury panel must start over.

It's still unclear why the judge decided to make the switch. The change was apparently made due to some kind of misconduct.

TIMELINE: How the investigation into the deadly Ghost Ship fire unfolded

"Three in one fell swoop is a bit unusual so it does lead to speculation as to what exactly happened. It could be that maybe those three jurors did something they were not supposed to do. Maybe they got together over the weekend at a restaurant and decided you know, we can figure out this case better than anyone. And that is absolutely forbidden," said David Lim Former Alameda County Prosecutor.

RELATED: Ghost Ship Trial: On day 7 of deliberations jury requests 'read back' of Derick Almena's testimony

The panel now consists of five men and seven women, charged with deciding the fate of defendants Derick Almena and Max Harris.

"We are gagged," said Aleman's attorney, Tony Serra.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge, Trina Thompson prohibited attorneys and jurors from speaking to media. Almena's attorney has claimed in the past that Harris and Almena are not criminally liable. Each defendant faces up to 39 years in prison if convicted.

"I still have confidence that the jury is going to do the right thing and get a not guilty verdict both for Max and Derick," said Oakland Artist Harris supporter Danielle Silva.

Prosecutors argue both men were criminally negligent, guilty of 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter, for those who died in the December 2016 fire.

RELATED: Remembering the Oakland Ghost Ship Fire victims

"We have no comments there is not development really. Do you think it's taking too long? I don't know we're just going with the flow," said David Gregory.

The defense team claims Harris and Almena are not criminally liable and that the building's owners and the city of Oakland share at least some of the blame.

Before Monday, there were four alternates on the Ghost Ship trial-- now there is just one.

The judge said they received notes from six jurors-- some are scheduling conflicts that will have an impact on how they move forward.

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