OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Ghost Ship master tenant Derick Almena spoke to KTVU in his first interview since a jury hung on his fate in the deadly warehouse fire in Oakland, a day before he learns whether prosecutors will retry him.
"I want to go home. Now. Soon. Tomorrow," Almena said during an hourlong interview Thursday at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
Almena once again spoke to KTVU from behind bars, in his first public comments after a judge declared a mistrial because of a hung jury. The panel acquitted co-defendant Max Harris last month.
"I was elated for Max, because just one person could have kept him there," he said.
But Almena says he doesn't think he's getting out of jail any time soon, because he's sure prosecutors will announce on Friday that they will try him again.
"They're gonna refile, even though they don't want to go to trial. They're going to refile, because it keeps me in here," Almena said, referring to jail.
But Almena predicts no jury will ever convict him. "They're never going to find 12 people to send me to prison for the rest of my life," Almena said. "There's always going to be at least one that says, 'No way, no way,' especially now, with everything that's coming out."
Almena's referring to evidence in a civil trial that's supposed to start next year. Victims' families are suing not only him and Harris, but also the city of Oakland and warehouse owner Chor Ng.
"Everything that they're doing right now, I'm going to utilize," Almena said. "I have rights too, because I''m in that case. So I have access to all of their discovery, all of their investigation. That's what I'm going to use to fight my case."
Almena says he's ready for any second trial, even though 10 on the jury were convinced he was guilty. Two women held out for acquittal.
What's more, Almena says two of the three women who were booted from the jury for misconduct were also on his side.
"Two of the jurors were removed because they spoke up for me on my behalf," he said.
Almena says the trial gave victims families answers.
"But if we go into another trial, it's to send me home," he said.
Almena says he had a role in the tragedy..but that mistakes were made by many others.
"I don't believe that I'm guilty," he said.
He added, "I am remorseful, but I also have opinions, and I also have, like, my family that I want to go home to, you know? I have my honor and my life and my memory of what happened. So that doesn't mix well. It's like oil and water."
Prosecutors on Friday are expected to announce whether they will retry Almena, dismiss the charges against him or seek a new plea deal with him. Both defendants had originally agreed to jail terms under an earlier agreement, but a judge tossed that deal on the grounds that Almena hadn't shown enough remorse.