Ghost Ship defendants considering new terms to plea deal

Attorneys have worked out a new plea deal for both defendants charged in connection with the Ghost Ship warehouse fire. KTVU has learned that under the new deal, Master Tenant Derick Almena would receive nine years in jail, and Max Harris would receive six years for pleading no contest to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter. 

An email sent by the Alameda County District Attorney to the victims' families, obtained by the East Bay Times, said Almena and Harris are expected to accept the plea deal. 

An Alameda County judge had approved a potential plea agreement on Friday, but after several hours in court the defendants were still considering the offer and the judge continued the hearing until Tuesday July 3. 

If one of them rejects the offer, they both must stand trial and could face 36 years in prison.

Under the proposed agreement, the actual prison time served would be less than half of their sentences. Each of the defendants would earn credit for time served, and time off for good behavior. 

Alameda County prosecutors found the pair hoarded flammable materials from floor to ceiling in the warehouse, created an illegal party space, and even blocked one of only two exits from the second floor the night of the fatal fire.

Almena's attorney Tony Serra said his client wants to save "everyone agony and anguish" and he's stepping up to "accept responsibility as a moral gesture." 

In an exclusive jailhouse interview with 2 Investigates, Almena said "to sit through months of parents looking at burned remains of their children, it's not even worth it. What that's going to do to their to their psyche and the world, that sadness is going to reverberate through the entire universe and just create more suffering. I can't be apart of that anymore."

One of Harris' attorneys, Tyler Smith, said on Monday that his client is strongly considering the deal but wasn't entirely positive it would happen. 

KTVU's Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.