Judge reduces bail for Ghost Ship suspect

A judge today denied a defense motion to release Ghost Ship warehouse creative director Max Harris on his own recognizance in connection with the fire that killed 36 people at the Oakland warehouse district last December.

But Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy did agree to reduce the bail for Harris, who faces 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter for his alleged role in the blaze at the warehouse at 1309 31st Ave. in Oakland’s Fruitvale district on Dec. 2, from $1.08 million to $750,000.

Tyler Smith, one of three attorney who represent Harris, said Harris should be freed without bail because he has no prior criminal record, has the support of 31 Oakland community members who wrote character letters on his behalf and isn’t a flight risk.

But Murphy said he has concerns about whether Harris would show up for all of his court appearances because he doesn’t have a regular job, has only lived in Oakland for four years and after the fire he traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands and to Los Angeles, where he was arrested last month.

Smith said after the hearing that he’s disappointed with Murphy’s ruling but hopes that Harris can raise enough money to make bail even though he doesn’t have much money at this time.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said last month that she filed charges against Harris and Ghost Ship master tenant Derick Almena, 47, because their actions were “reckless” and created a high risk of death for the people who attended a dance party at the Ghost Ship Warehouse.

Almena, whose bail currently is set at $1.08 million, is scheduled to have a bail hearing next Friday.

Almena and Harris haven’t yet entered pleas to the charges against them.