Ghost Ship sentencing hearing: Families give impact statements on their loved ones killed in blaze

Thirty six people died in the Ghost Ship fire on Dec. 2, 2016 in Oakland, Calif.


The testimony in Alameda County Superior Court before Judge James Cramer will last through Friday, when Ghost Ship master tenant Derick Almena, 48,  is expected to be sentenced to nine years in jail and creative director Max Harris, 28, is expected to be sentenced to six. Neither showed any emotion during the testimony. Cameras were not allowed in the courtroom.

Both will spend about half of their sentences in jail in Alameda County jail, earning credit for time served and good behavior.

Two-day sentencing hearing in Ghost Ship case

Here is some of that testimony: 



Karen Frieholtz - aunt


“You have no idea who you took from us...I’m angry, I’m hurt, I’m trying to forgive...”


“I want Michela’s face to forever be in your mind.”


“Only now you say you’re sorry only because you got a deal.”


“I hope you’re both haunted for the rest of your lives. You killed her hopes. You killed her dreams. You destroyed our family. You destroyed everything.”


She made Harris and Almena close their eyes and said: “Can you hear her? Can you feel the anguish? Can you feel that pain? I don’t know how you can look at yourselves.”



Cyrus Hoda - brother 


“Derick and Max’s actions forever altered 35 other family trees...the district attorneys office gave you sweetheart deals.”


“The damage of your actions is done. Show some respect and empathy.”


“The city has blood on their hands for this case...lack of action, lack of response. The city has not learned from this situation.”



Leslie Moran --mother of Ghassan's children


“I know he saw the girls faces flash before him as he was choking on his last breath.”


Moran said her daughter asked to see the building where her dad died and always sleeps with photo album of him. Daughter Lucy asked why didn’t the buildings have smoke alarms? The girls are constantly asking Mom now: “Are you going to die? Who will take care of us? Will we ever get another dad?”


“My daughters have been robbed of all the memories other families can make. I think about this every day.”