OAKLAND — A new trial date was set for Derick Almena, the remaining Ghost Ship defendant after a mistrial was declared last month after a jury could not decide on his fate.
Almena, 49, faces 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of three dozen people who perished in the deadly fire on Dec. 2, 2016 at the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland.
On Friday he appeared for the first time since the jury of 12 deadlocked, 10-2, in favor of guilt on his charges. He faces between 36 to 39 years in state prison if convicted on all charges.
A new trial date was set for March 30, 2020, meaning that the district attorney’s office has agreed to move forward with his prosecution. Almena will next have to appear in court for a hearing on January 31.
“We want a trial,” said Almena’s attorney Tony Serra after the hearing.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Trina Thompson denied his attorneys motion for reduced bail, which is currently set at $750,000. Almena’s wife, Micah Allison said she was sad her husband wasn’t granted bail.
“This is a massive, massive tragedy… we will never be the same,” she said.
Colleen Dolan, the mother of fire victim Chelsea Dolan, said she was glad the judge did not reduce Almena’s bail. She said she thinks he is a flight risk, and would flee with his family, despite what his attorneys have said.
Regarding the upcoming trial next year, Dolan said despite feeling “emotionally rung out,” she is feeling stronger week by week.
“I expect I will feel stronger when the next trial begins. I will be an advocate for my daughter, and that is very important to me,” she said.
Also during Fridays hearing, two jurors that had been booted from the jury for doing outside research were present for their hearing on whether or not to be held in contempt of the court. Both were held in contempt of the court, and one was fined $500.
One juror said she consulted with a retired firefighter friend from Mexico about the Ghost Ship case.
Three jurors total were dismissed from the jury on the tenth day of deliberations. Alternates were called in and the jury had to restart deliberations from scratch.
Two other jurors, who were part of the final deciding jury, were also present in court Friday, but seemed to be there for support.
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