Coronavirus delays Ghost Ship trial for months

The retrial of the man at the center of the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse tragedy has been delayed several months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Derick Almena was denied bail Monday when his attorneys met with prosecutors and the judge for a teleconference. It was supposed to be the first day of the new trial.

Attorney Tony Serra filed a motion for emergency release of Almena explaining he was not a flight risk, not a danger to the community and was suffering psychological harm in jail. That motion was rejected.

“They should have let him out,” Serra said. “This is a disgrace and a pre-conviction penalty!”

Almena has already spent more than two years in Santa Rita Jail accused of 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter after three dozen people died during an Oakland warehouse party in December 2016. He was the master-tenant and allowed the event to take place and for people to live and work in what Almena described as an ‘artist collective.’

Last September, the jury in the original trial acquitted Max Harris who lived at the warehouse with Almena and collected money at the door the night of the party. A hung jury on Almena’s involvement resulting in a new trial that was scheduled to begin this year.

Judge Trina Thompson delayed the trial until July 6 amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The cause of the tragic fire has never been determined.