Ghost Ship defendants Derick Almena and Max Harris have accepted a plea deal, meaning they will each serve less than ten years for 36 counts of manslaughter following a deadly fire at a warehouse venue in Oakland, California.
The blaze inside Ghost Ship took place in December 2016, during a 100% Silk label showcase. Amongst those killed were performers Cherushii, Nackt, Cash Askew, Obsidian Blade and Visual Aids.
The city’s fire department was unable to find a definite cause, but after the incident reports emerged suggesting the interior was a ‘death trap’. It is also believed the building’s owner knew the electrical system was in need of an upgrade.
Almena, master tenant at the address, is expected to serve nine years, Harris, the creative director, is likely to receive a six year term. Both pleaded ‘no contest’ to the charges brought against them, with sentences expected to be passed on 9th August.
Had the case gone to a full trial they could each have faced up to 35 years in prison. Bereaved families have expressed outrage and disappointment at the result.
“It’s as though they [prosecutors] said, ‘Let’s get this one out of the way … so we can deal with these murders … and give those the max attention,’” Sami Kopelman, mother of 34-year-old victim Edmond Lapine, told the East Bay Times.