OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – The family of one of the defendants in the Oakland Ghost Ship fire trial is speaking out for the first time as the jury deliberates the future of Derick Almena and Max Harris.
Harris’ aunt Laura Lind believes the jury will be fair in this case, and says Harris was hero, not a criminal. She says the trial demonstrated that point.
“I just believe in their grief, they haven’t been able to accept the truth,” Lind said.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: Deadly Ghost Ship Fire
It’s the first time Harris’ family spoke out about the trail.
“When the fire broke out, Max ran and got the biggest fire extinguisher he could. He ran back to the fire, he tried to put it out, he couldn’t. He started yelling ‘fire.’ He called 911,” said Lind.
Harris and master tenant Derick Almena now wait for the verdict. They face 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter charges.
“Max was no more responsible than anyone else who lived there. He was absolutely scapegoated,” says Lind.
Defense attorney Tony Serra says the other scapegoat is Almena. He says Almena did not violate the law and did not act with criminal negligence.
“My client does not have that state of mind. My God, he’s in there with his three children and his wife,” Serra said.
Prosecutors say it’s really simple: both men created dangerous conditions in a warehouse that ultimately killed 36 people.
The jury will be off Friday and Monday. They’ll return on Tuesday to deliberate.
The defense is hoping this will last longer. Typically, a longer deliberation means good news for the defendant.