Ghost Ship Fire: 4-month trial to close this week

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Ghost Ship warehouse fire trial, which has been going on for four months, is coming to a close this week.

On Monday, final arguments were made in court. Then the case goes to the jury.

ABC7 News reporter Leslie Brinkley has been following the case. She was there for the final arguments.

She says Prosecutor Autrey James solemnly read the names of the 36 victims as family members wept openly in court ,a few breaking down into sobs, as he described them trapped on the second floor of the Ghost Ship "suspended in smoke with the bottleneck of 80 people at the only exit out."

Chris Allen lost his sister in fire.

"The way Autrey put it this time about the suspension in smoke, it's not easy to hear," he said. "A lot of people were crying. Yeah it's not easy, it hurts a lot for us."

RELATED: Ghost Ship Trial: Fire investigator testifies about arson theory

James said the two defendants, Max Harris and Derek Almena, acted with criminal negligence and listed for the jury nine crimes the prosecution claims they've proven beyond a reasonable doubt, including failing to get permits, failing to install sprinklers and alarms, and storing vehicles in a residential building that was originally leased as a storage facility.

"I keep wanting to jump up and down and yell 'that's why Max is innocent,'" said Curtis Briggs, Max Harris' attorney. "Max didn't sign the lease, he didn't form the lease, he didn't found the Ghost Ship warehouse."

But Almena's attorney, Tony Serra, said his client was depressed after today's presentation to the jury.

"Those are the situations most fraught with possibility of miscarriage of justice. When the prosecutor is too eloquent and he was," Serra said.

A woman who escaped from the fire was upset.

RELATED: Ghost Ship Trial: Video shows Almena saying fire inside would be 'horrible'

"The thing about this trial is that it's not going to bring anyone back," Carmen Brito said. "It's not going to fix any of the problems that contributed to this tragedy

Among the eight women and four men on the jury and four alternates, one juror often gazed at the defendants. Another quietly wiped tears as the judge admonished them to not let bias, sympathy or public opinion sway their opinion.

The defense will deliver their closing arguments Tuesday. The case could possibly go to the jury in the next couple of days.

Take a look at the latest stories and videos about the Ghost Ship Fire trial.
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