OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Micah Allison, the wife of the Ghost Ship defendant Derick Almena, testified in Alameda County Superior Court Tuesday, suggesting an Oakland Fire Department arson investigator lied on the stand.
Allison named Maria Sabatini as the investigator who had entered the warehouse in 2014, along with other firefighters, and received a tour of the facility. Sabatini was reportedly investigating an arson on the exterior of the building but asked to come inside to see if the flames had damaged the interior, according to Allison’s testimony.
Allison offered distinct details and said Sabatini “made the cross,” a common Catholic gesture, when the investigator saw a picture of Jesus near the entrance, and that “she had positive words to say” about the warehouse and its configuration.
Allison is the fourth witness to testified that Oakland firefighters entered the warehouse, but is the first to mention Sabatini by name. It is part of the defense’s ongoing strategy to blame the city for missing fire hazards, ignoring warning signs, and claiming the city bears the civil liability for the 2016 fire that killed 36 people.
“This isn’t a mistake. This isn’t a failure of memory. Sabatini said ‘I wasn’t in there.’ Captain Friedland says, ‘I wasn’t in there.’ And they lied!” said defense attorney Tony Serra.
In the cross examination, prosecutors asked a series of rapid fire questions in an effort to rattle Allison, said Serra.
“Answering the questions, yes, no, I don’t remember. She was very focused. And in terms of impeachments, prior inconsistent statements, motive to lie, none of that came out,” said Serra.
Serra said Allison brings a female perspective to the trial and humanizes the situation. At one point, when shown a family portrait of her three children posing with Almena, Allison broke down.
“She cried on the stand. So very potent when a mother and a wife speaks out on behalf of her husband and their mutual vision. Very powerful.”