OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Witness testimony in the Ghost Ship trial begins Monday. The question is, will some of the witnesses be allowed to take the stand?
The defense already filed a motion to prevent one of the victim’s mothers from speaking, as well as survivor.
Carol Cidlik is the mother of Nicole Siegrist, who also went by the name “Denalda.” Siegrist was a synth-pop musician. She is one of the 36 people who died in the fire at the converted warehouse known as the “Ghost Ship” back on December 2, 2016. Siegrist sent a text to her mom that night - saying she was going to die.
An attorney for defendant Max Harris told the judge she should not be allowed to testify – saying it will not prove or disprove any facts and could be too emotional, creating a prejudice in the jurors minds.
UC Hastings law professor David Levine expects this to be a very contentious trial.
“What defendants want to show is the prejudicial value of this testimony far outweighs the probable value,” said Levin. “So that is why they are focusing on the fact this text has nothing to do with the cause. It has nothing to do whether or not these defendants are responsible. But it is setting the scene. I would assume the judge will allow some of that kind of evidence but not too much. That is the way to balance the rights of the two sides.”
The defense does not want fire survivor Sam Maxwell to testify. Maxwell is now in a wheelchair and requires round-the-clock care. If he does take the stand, he would need his mother to interpret for him, something the defense says is inappropriate.
Derick Almena and Max Harris are charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter. In opening statement, the defense argued the fire may have been arson, saying someone threw a Molotov cocktail.
No official cause of the fire has been determined.