A judge Friday denied a bid by Ghost Ship warehouse master tenant Derick Almena’s lawyers to have him released on his own recognizance as he fights the charges against him for his role in the fire that killed 36 people at the Oakland warehouse district in December 2016.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy’s ruling was the second time he has declined to release Almena, 48, from custody in the case in which he and Ghost Ship creative director Max Harris, 28, face 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the blaze at the warehouse at 1309 31st Ave. in Oakland’s Fruitvale district on Dec. 2, 2016.
At a hearing last August Murphy reduced Almena’s bail from $1.08 million to $750,000 but declined to release him on his own recognizance.
Almena’s lawyer Tony Serra asked for a second bail hearing Friday in the wake of an appellate court ruling earlier this year that said judges must take a defendant’s ability to pay into account when bail amounts are set.
Serra said, “The amount of $750,000 is not bail for an indigent person such as Derick Almena, it’s a pre-conviction punishment.”
Serra said a defendant’s “prospect of getting justice is enhanced” if he’s out of custody and is well-dressed and healthy during his trial instead of being in custody,