Father of young Ghost Ship Fire victim: 'No way' defendants aren't guilty

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Ghost Ship Fire case is likely to go to trial. In a letter leaked ahead of Friday's court hearing, the Alameda County District Attorney urges the judge to move forward with a trial as soon as possible.

In the latest twist to the Ghost Ship case, the DA's office says it will no longer accept any plea deals for defendants Derick Almena and Max Harris.

In a letter obtained and published by our partners at the East Bay Times, District Attorney Nancy O'Malley writes, "The people stand ready to try this case against both defendants."

Last week, an Alameda County judge tossed out a deal previously accepted by another judge - setting the stage for a lengthy trial.

Max Harris' defense attorney responded to the DA's letter with a bold statement of his own today, saying he welcomes the trial.

EXCLUSIVE: Ghost Ship fire defendant Max Harris will try to separate case from Derick Almena

"We are going to show the public and the jury all the institutional incompetence they can stomach, including that of O'Malley's office and every inept and incompetent public official who allowed this fire to happen. I think Harris will be acquitted," said Curtis Briggs, Harris' defense attorney.

One of the victim's family members also welcomes a trial but for different reasons.

"I'm definitely okay with a trial because I think there's no way in hell this man cannot be found guilty," said David Gregory, father of 20-year-old victim Michela. She was one of 36 people killed in the Ghost Ship Warehouse inferno on December 2, 2016.

Like everyone else in the courtroom Friday, Gregory was surprised by the turn of events but also relieved that the defendants could face more jail time if convicted by a jury.

RELATED: Attorney for families of Ghost Ship victims 'pleased' with plea deal rejection

The judge cited Almena's lack of remorse in his decision.

"I don't think he's willing to accept his role in this, he doesn't understand why it is that people blame him," said Gregory, referring to main defendant Almena.

In an exclusive interview with ABC7 News earlier this week at the Santa Rita Jail, Almena shared his wishes for a change of venue.

"How am I going to find a jury that hasn't' heard me say, 'ok I'm guilty,'" Almena asked.

Fearing they won't get a fair trial, Almena's attorneys plan to make a change of venue motion at Friday's hearing.

For for full coverage on the investigation into Oakland's deadly Ghost Ship Fire, visit this page.

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