A judge in Alameda County today denied a bail reduction request from Max Harris, one of the two defendants in the criminal case tied to the December Ghost Ship fire in Oakland. Harris, who along with co-defendant Derick Almena has been in jail since their June 5 arrest on involuntary manslaughter charges, had his bail initially set at $1.08 million, and with his attorney was seeking a significant reduction in that number. As KRON 4 reports, Judge Kevin Murphy said in court Friday that he was "concerned that Max Harris’ ties to Northern California aren’t deep enough to support him while he awaits trial on 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter," and he reduced his bail to $750,000.
One of Harris's attorneys, Tyler Smith, tells KRON 4 "He is extremely disappointed."
Harris is 27 and Smith argued in court that he is neither a flight risk nor a danger to society, as involuntary manslaughter is "not a serious felony."
Prosecutor Autrey James told the judge, "We are not here because Max Harris is a horrible person. A mistake was made that cost the lives of 36 people," but James said that two victims' families had written letters urging the judge not to release Harris on minimal bail.
The judge appeared concerned that Harris, who was arrested last month in Los Angeles, may not be likely stick around the Bay Area for upcoming hearings given that he had been living in Oakland for four years without steady employment.
Attorneys for Almena are also expected to make a request for bail reduction at the pair's arraignment, which is now scheduled for August 4 after several delays.