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California judge: Ghost Ship defendant didn't violate parole

Oakland Warehouse fire
Posted at 9:00 AM, Dec 17, 2022

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A judge ruled that the master tenant of a San Francisco Bay Area warehouse that caught fire, killing 36 people during a party in 2016, did not violate terms of his probation after prosecutors said a search of his home turned up weapons.

Derick Almena is supervised by the Alameda County Probation Department stemming from his conviction for manslaughter after the inferno at the Oakland warehouse dubbed the Ghost Ship where an unpermitted artists collective held events.

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office said in August that probation officers found bows and arrows and a round of ammunition at Almena's home.

Almena's terms of supervision had required him not to possess any deadly weapons or ammo, the DA's office said.

Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy said Friday that Almena's possession of the items did not constitute a violation of his probation, the Bay Area News Group reported.

Almena's attorney, Tony Serra, argued that the items weren't weapons, as prosecutors contended. The arrows were stubbed and intended for target practice, while the bullet was part of a shrine Almena's wife erected to memorialize gun violence victims, Serra said.

The DA's office didn't immediately comment on the judge's decision.

Almena has been out of jail since the Aug. 25 probation search of his Ukiah home where the items were found.

Almena pled guilty to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter but a plea deal allowed him to avoid prison and serve home detention followed by three years of probation. Almena received nearly 7 years of credit for good behavior.