VIDEO: Mother, son take stand at Ghost Ship fire preliminary hearing


OAKLAND (KRON) — There was some contentious testimony in court on Monday as the case against two men, the reported master tenants of the Ghost Ship warehouse, continues.

A massive fire erupted at the Oakland warehouse last year, killing 36 people. A judge is considering whether Derick Almena and Max Harris should face a trial for causing the fatal fire.

On Monday, a mother and son took the stand against the two.

Kathleen Bouchard, and her son Nico, testified Monday in the preliminary hearing for Max Harris and Derick Almena.

The two men are charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths in the fatal Ghost Ship fire last December.

The first on the stand on Monday was Nico.

He leased the warehouse with Almena back in 2013. He testified that he left, came back, and found people living in the warehouse. And he thought it was unsafe and a fire hazard.

His mother Kathleen elaborated on her son’s connection with the Ghost Ship. A former television location scout and producer, she says her son asked for her help to look at the Ghost Ship in 2013 to convert it to an artist workspace and child center.

She testified upon review she had “concerns” because the warehouse had no toilets or running water.

She researched the city’s regulations on such facilities and then met with defendant Almena. When she presented the fact it was not compliant and needed required upgrades, she said Almena laughed at her saying, “that is not how we go about it.”

She later testified she encouraged her son to get an attorney to get out of the lease because she said, “All I cared about was to get my son safe out of there.”

Defense attorneys took a stab at both following a break in the action.

Another witness on the stand Monday included a contractor who called the warehouse a death trap.

The preliminary hearing continues Tuesday.



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