The Latest: Men plead no contest in deadly California fire
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on a plea deal in a California warehouse fire that killed 36 partygoers (all times local):
Two defendants have each pleaded no contest to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in a fire at an illegally converted California warehouse that occurred during an unpermitted concert.
Under the terms of the plea agreement Tuesday, Derick Almena could be sentenced to nine years in prison and Max Harris could receive a six-year sentence. A judge will sentence them at a later date.
Authorities say the 48-year-old Almena rented the warehouse and illegally converted it into an entertainment venue and residences before the December 2016 blaze.
The 28-year-old Harris helped Almena collect rent and schedule concerts
Prosecutors say the men turned the cluttered building into a “death trap” with few exits, rickety stairs and dark and dangerous passageways.
Both men are only expected to serve half their sentences. They have been in jail for a year.
Parents of those killed in a Northern California warehouse fire say they’re disappointed by the prison sentences expected for two men charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Derick Almena’s attorney, Tony Serra, says his client and the other defendant, Max Harris, will plead guilty in exchange for prison terms of less than 10 years each in a plea deal expected to be announced Tuesday.
David Gregory’s 20-year-old daughter, Michela Gregory, was among the victims. He tells the San Francisco Chronicle that he was shocked and disappointed by the short sentences. He says he would have preferred a trial.
Sami Kopelman, mother of 34-year-old victim Edmond Lapine, says she also thinks the sentences are too lenient.
Kopelman tells the East Bay Times that she would have liked to see each defendant get 36 years in prison.
Two men are expected to accept plea bargain prison sentences Tuesday to resolve felony charges connected to a Northern California warehouse fire that killed dozens of partygoers at an unlicensed concert in 2016.
One of the defendants’ attorneys says Derick Almena and Max Harris will each plead guilty in exchange to prison sentences of less than 10 years each.
They will likely be released after serving half their sentences because of time off for good behavior.
They are scheduled to appear in an Oakland courtroom Tuesday afternoon.