Ghost Ship Trial: Derick Almena gets combative on witness stand

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Derick Almena's attorney Tony Serra was livid outside court over a prosecutor's questioning of Almena regarding a 2015 incident, a wild New Year's Eve party held at the Ghost Ship, after which Almena's young son found a used condom.

"I protested vigorously," said Serra. "He is a minor. It's an area that should've remained confidential. It has absolutely nothing to do with this case and from my view it was disgrace to bring it up."

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Prosecutors are trying to establish that the Ghost Ship was not a safe environment, so unsafe that it led to the December 2016 fire that killed 36 people.

The information about the condom was inside a police report, and recorded on a body camera worn by one of the officers who responded to Almena's call for help in dealing with the people who had thrown the party.

Prosecutor Autrey James then asked Almena whether he obtained proper permits for a bathroom, kitchen, stairway and door that were added to the warehouse.

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It's the moment Derick Almena's defense teams says he's been waiting for-- for two and a half years. The chance for the founder of the Ghost Ship to tell his side of the story

The 49-year-old Almena admitted he never got permits for any of the work, but insisted it was the responsibility of the building's owner or a contractor, not his.

The exchange with James was often testy.

"He hasn't slept in three days. He's up there fighting for his life," said Serra, who told reporters he always prefers his client not get combative on the witness stand.

Almena's expected back on the stand Thursday morning. It's not clear yet whether his testimony will extend into next week.

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