OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - A defense attorney told jurors his client is a family man and artist wrongly charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in a California warehouse fire that killed three dozen people.
Derick Almena's attorney, Tony Serra, also told jurors during his opening statement on Wednesday that others are to blame for the deadly Dec. 2, 2016, Oakland fire that occurred during an unpermitted concert.
Serra blamed Oakland building department officials for failing to inspect the structure annually as required by city law.
He also said arson is to blame for the fire.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators could not determine the cause.
Almena rented the warehouse, and prosecutors say he illegally converted it to a residence and entertainment venue. Max Harris is also charged. Prosecutors say he helped Almena collect rent and schedule concerts.