Attorneys for Ghost Ship fire defendants want bail reduced

Friday, July 07, 2017 06:06PM
Lawyers for two men charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with an Oakland warehouse fire that killed 36 partygoers said Friday that they will try to get their clients released from jail on lower bail.

OAKLAND, Calif. - The attorneys for the two men charged criminally in the fatal Oakland Ghost Ship fire say they plan to ask a judge to release them without bail.

Derick Almena and Max Harris appeared in court Friday. Neither Almena nor Harris entered a plea as planned. Their attorneys say they're waiting for the Alameda County District Attorney's Office to turn over more evidence.

PHOTOS: Before and after pictures of Oakland Ghost Ship fire

"We see no evidence that they can ever show that our client committed any act with criminal negligence," said Tony Serra, attorney for Almena.

"What we're looking for is the damning evidence, the damning evidence isn't there," said Curtis Briggs, attorney for Harris.

Harris' attorney says what he's seen are cause reports from federal authorities saying they couldn't identify a cause in the Ghost Ship Warehouse fire. He also says he's received witness statements suggesting his client was in the right.

Click here to read the Oakland Fire Department's full report.

In an emailed statement, The Alameda County District Attorney's Office writes, "There is a lot of discovery and both the defense and our office are working diligently and cooperatively on ensuring that everyone has all that they are entitled to."

Attorneys for Almena and Harris say they plan to ask the judge to release both on their own recognizance with bail reduced to nothing either on August 4th or sooner.

"He's not a flight risk, he's certainly not going to re-offend which are the two major criteria," said Serra referring to Almena.

"He has no resources to flee he has a pro-bono legal team," said Briggs referring to Harris.

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office said it could not comment on the upcoming defense bail motion since a judge will make that determination.

31 of the 36 victims' families have signed onto a civil lawsuit.

PHOTOS: A look inside the Oakland Ghost Ship collective warehouse

"I think that and most of the families feel that these people who created the deathtrap, created this fire trap, people could not get out, that they should be held accountable and they should stay in jail," said Mary Alexander who is the attorney for the victims' families.

Alexander says she and the families also believe the building's owner should be charged criminally.

Click here for full coverage on the investigation into Oakland's deadly Ghost Ship Fire.
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