Last month, it was announced that the two Ghost Ship defendants facing dozens of manslaughter charges would enter a plea deal to avoid lengthy jail sentences. However, a California judge chose to reject the plea deal designed to combat 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter following the 2016 California warehouse fire.


According to multiple reports, Judge James Cramer’s decision came as a complete surprise last Friday. He wasn’t sold on the nine and six year sentences suggested in the plea deal and questioned how those terms were decided upon in the first place.

In addition, the judge didn’t believe 48-year-old Derick Almena accepted “full responsibility and remorse” for what happened at the Oakland warehouse known as the Ghost Ship. Meanwhile, 28-year-old Max Harris was found to be more sincere — but because the plea bargain was presented on behalf of both defendants, it was rejected in court.

Harris apologized to the victims’ families, but did not expect any forgiveness in return. “I know nothing I can say will come close. I’m sorry,” he said. “You’re in my prayers and will be for the rest of my life.”

Almena said he should have died in the fire and was “guilty for believing we were safe.”

Now that the plea deal is tossed out, Almena and Harris are expected to appear back in court this Friday for the potential next steps. Some hope for this tragic case to end, while others hope for a trial to bring new evidence to light.

Source: NBC News | Photos released by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office