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No verdict in Day 7 of Ghost Ship jury deliberations

Angela Ruggiero, East Bay Times on

Published in News & Features

OAKLAND, Calif. -- In their seventh day of deliberation, the 12-person jury in the Ghost Ship trial criminal case asked for testimony to be read back to them Tuesday afternoon.

The jury has not yet returned a verdict in the case of Derick Almena, 49, and Max Harris, 29, both charged with 36 counts each of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of three dozen people who perished during a Dec. 2, 2016, warehouse fire in the Fruitvale district in East Oakland. The fire was the city's deadliest.

If convicted on all counts, each man faces up to 39 years behind bars, although it will ultimately be up to a judge to decide at sentencing.

The jury began deliberating the afternoon of July 31, after closing arguments by the attorneys.

On Tuesday afternoon, the jury asked for read-back of the entire testimony from Almena; Nico Bouchard, who co-signed the lease for the warehouse with Almena; and Ryan O'Keefe, who was present the night of the warehouse fire.

Jurors' request for the testimony to be read back to them was the first request since last week when they asked for a computer tablet to view an exhibit.

 

The testimony will be read back by the court reporter, and will likely take until Wednesday afternoon for the reporter to finish. The jury cannot ask any questions or interact with the court reporter when the testimony is being read.

Bouchard was one of the first people to testify the first day evidence was presented in this case on May 6, and O'Keefe testified on May 7. Almena took the stand in his own defense from July 8 to 11.

Curtis Briggs, attorney for Harris, said to the media Tuesday afternoon that he and Harris were smiling in the courtroom after they heard the read-back testimony did not include Harris' testimony.

"We're getting extremely positive vibes from the jury. We are very happy with their questions," Briggs said.

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