Defense attorney alleges Oakland Ghost Ship fire was act of arson

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Opening statements in the Ghost Ship trial have concluded and the evidence portion is set to begin next Monday.

RELATED: Emotional opening statement by prosecutors in Ghost Ship trial

Ghost Ship founder Derick Almena and creative director Max Harris are both charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the December 2016 fire.

In his opening statement, Almena's attorney Tony Serra said his client is not to blame for the deadly fire -- claiming witness statements will show it was arson set by several men with Molotov cocktails. Serra acknowledged there was no physical evidence found at the scene to help prove that point.

RELATED: Ghost Ship defendants ask for officials, landlords to be arrested for fire

Serra described Almena as "100 percent artist."

"My client is not some despot, cult leader, manipulator of the truth," Serra told the nine women and three men of the jury. "Not someone indifferent to the horrors of these events."

RELATED: Opening statements for Ghost Ship trial begin



Serra also claimed that numerous officials from the police and fire departments, as well as Alameda County Child Protective Services, visited the warehouse, were inside often, and never told Almena that it was dangerous or failed to meet safety codes.

The trial resumes Monday morning when the first witness will be called by prosecutors from the Alameda County District Attorney's office. Testimony is expected to last about two months.

See more stories related to the Ghost Ship Fire case.



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