Jury deliberations continue in Ghost Ship Trial

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The jury in the Ghost Ship trial are in the midst of the first full day of deliberations. The nine women and three men of the jury will decide if Ghost Ship founder Derick Almena and its self-described "creative director" Max Harris are guilty of the 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter.

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The decision will hinge on whether the jury believes Almena and Harris committed "criminal negligence."

In his closing argument, Alameda County Prosecutor Autrey James told the jury that the standard for criminal negligence is "what would a reasonable person do in the same situation?"

James said both Almena and Harris lied about what was really going on at the Ghost Ship, including the fact that people were living there, that they created a "dangerous condition" by failing to have proper fire alarms, sprinklers and a stable staircase, and finally that they were indifferent to the consequences of their actions.

"It's a state of mind crime," Almena's attorney Tony Serra told reporters. "So your state of mind has to be what they call "utterly indifferent" to the possible consequences of your actions, or a reckless disregard for human life. Those I argued are mental states. Mental states can only be shown through circumstantial evidence." Serra and his co-counsel say that the prosecution failed to prove that either defendant met that standard.

TIMELINE: How the investigation into the deadly fire Ghost Ship fire unfolded

At least one former tenant and Ghost Ship fire survivor, Carmen Brito does not want either Almena or Harris convicted in criminal court.

"A lot of the argument against Max Harris is completely unfounded," said Brito. "I don't think he ever should've been arrested. And largely it's looking like...I'm hoping he gets out soon. I'm hoping we can all just put the behind us."

However, many of the family members of the 36 who died the night of the fire want both men found guilty.

"It's not about retribution, revenge, being out for blood, any of that, or trying to direct our anger," explained Chris Allen, who lost his sister in the fire. "We're here for accountability."

If the jury does not reach a verdict today, they will resume deliberations Tuesday morning.
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