Jury finalized in Ghost Ship trial; opening remarks next

A jury was seated Monday in the Ghost Ship criminal trial, paving the way for opening statements in the case of a warehouse fire in Oakland that killed 36 people.

Alameda County prosecutors will address the jury with an overview of the case on Tuesday. When they finish, defense attorneys for master tenant Derick Almena and creative director Max Harris will get a chance to provide opening statements.

Almena and Harris have each been charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter, one count for each of the victims who died in the December 2016 fire in Oakland's Fruitvale District.

Defense attorneys say their clients are being made scapegoats and that Oakland police, firefighters and building inspectors, as well as the warehouse owner and PG&E are responsible because they failed to act on dangers they knew existed in the building.

The jury of nine women and three men will determine the defendants' fate. They appear to be racially diverse, but their backgrounds are varied in other ways.

"We have age, we have wisdom of older people, we have the exuberance and idealism of young people," said Tony Serra, an attorney for Almena. "It's a rainbow, it's a coalition."

Opening statements will be given at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. The trial could last two to three months.

KTVU crime reporter Henry Lee is providing regular updates on the Ghost Ship trial blog