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Ghost Ship leader testifies in manslaughter trial

OAKLAND, Calif. — The leader of a San Francisco Bay Area warehouse where a fire killed 36 people more than two years ago has taken the stand in his defense for the first time.

Derick Almena is accused of illegally converting the so-called Ghost Ship warehouse into an artist live-work space where the Dec. 2, 2016, fire broke out during an electronic music concert.

Almena told an Oakland courtroom Monday that he feels responsible for building the community of artists and is “responsible for having the idea” for the Ghost Ship. The 49-year-old says he and his wife rented the warehouse to bring the things they had collected from their world travels into one place.

Almena said he believed it was safe.

He and 29-year-old Max Harris face 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter.

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