The Latest: Warehouse operator's wife calls for compassion

AP News
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Posted: Jun 09, 2017 5:21 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Latest on charges in a warehouse fire in California that killed 36 people (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

The wife of the operator of an Oakland warehouse where 36 people died in a fire says she and her children would not have lived in the building if they believed it unsafe.

Micah Allison made her first public comments Friday since the Dec. 2 fire at a San Francisco press conference organized by her husband's attorneys. She said her husband believed the warehouse he illegally converted into a residence and entertainment venue was a safe place to live and entertain paying customers.

Derick Almena has been charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter and faces 49 years in prison.

Allison said she and her husband are grieving for the dead. She called for compassion for everyone involved.

She declined to take questions.

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11:40 a.m.

An attorney for the operator of an Oakland warehouse where 36 people died in a fire says his client is experiencing a near mental breakdown.

Lawyer Tony Serra made the comments at a news conference Friday, using a photo of his client, Derick Almena, and his family as a backdrop.

Authorities say the 47-year-old Almena rented the warehouse and illegally converted it into low-cost housing for artists and an entertainment venue.

He appeared in court on Thursday but did not enter a plea. His arraignment on 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter was continued until June 15.

Almena was arrested Monday after a six-month investigation of the Dec. 2 fire that occurred during an unpermitted electronic music concert at the building known as the Ghost Ship.