Found to be in possession of a machete, bows and arrows, and a live bullet, master tenant in the 2016 Ghost Ship fire Derick Almena could face prison time again because Alameda County prosecutors say those items constitute a violation of his probation.
We’re coming up on the six-year anniversary of the 2016 Ghost Ship fire, the deadly, unauthorized party in a highly unsafe East Oakland warehouse that ultimately took 36 lives. The saga of this tragedy seemed to end with an excruciating conclusion for the victims’ families, as an initially hung jury on the dozens of counts of manslaughter against the space’s master tenant Derick Almena resulted in a new trial and a plea deal that allowed Almena to escape any further jail time. As of January 2021, Almena was given permission to serve out the rest of his sentence in home confinement with an ankle monitor, and was allowed to move to Mendocino County to do so.
UPDATE: Bows & arrows, machete & round of ammo found during probation search of Lake Co. home of Derick Almena, convicted of 36 counts of invol manslaughter in deadly Ghost Shop fire, per @AlamedaCountyDA, seeking to revoke his supervision, which could lead to jail time pic.twitter.com/pneAHTEZZP— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) September 14, 2022
But now we learn of a possible violation of that probation which could land Almena back in jail. The Bay Area News Group reports that Almena faces weapons possession charges, which could constitute a violation of his probation guidelines.
The News Group reports that on a warrantless search, Mendocino County probation officers “allegedly found [Almena] with deadly weapons, during an Aug. 25 probation search of his Ukiah home. Mendocino County probation officers allegedly found a machete, 10 bows, more than 50 arrows, and an ‘unsecured’ live .38 caliber bullet on top of a dresser, court records say.”
While obviously a machete can do some damage, the bullet is the potential probation violation here. Per the News Group, Alameda County “Prosecutors have filed paperwork alleging that by possessing it he committed a felony by violating the portion of California’s penal code forbidding felons from possessing any ammunition.”
And any probation violation could allow Almena to be resentenced to the maximum term for the previous underlying manslaughter charges. That will be up to an Alameda County judge. But his current house arrest terms, considered outrageously lenient by the victims’ families, could have expired this coming January. The new weapons charges just might change all that, and extend his house arrest, or even land him back in jail.
We’ll know more Friday, at 9 a.m., when Almena appears before an Alameda County judge at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland.
Image: Alameda County Sheriff's Office