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California warehouse fire defendant argues for plea deal

SAN FRANCISCO — One of two men charged in a Northern California warehouse fire that killed 36 people is attempting to resurrect a scuttled plea agreement.

On Friday, lawyers for Derick Almena are expected to argue in an Oakland court that a judge in August wrongly rejected an agreement reached with prosecutors to have Almena plead no contest to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in exchange for a nine-year sentence.

Judge James Cramer ruled that Almena failed to show sufficient remorse for his role in the December 2016 fire. The 48-year-old rented the warehouse and illegally converted it into an underground entertainment venue and live-work space for artists.

Cramer rejected the plea deal after listening to grieving families of victims testify for two days about their losses.