Victims' families emotional after Ghost Ship founder sentencing

"I do not forgive you. I never will": Family of those killed in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire said their final piece to Derick Almena. Many were crushed that he didn't receive a harsher sentence. Some recounted the way their loved ones died "the worst kind of death," while others "cursed his bones."

Video Transcript

- Embarrased? You have anything to say, Derick? How are you feeling?

- Ghost Ship Master [? 10 ?] Derick Almena was dropped off in front of an Oakland courthouse to learn his fate for his role in the disastrous warehouse fire that killed 36 people. Once inside, Almena faced dozens of family members, appearing by Zoom, delivering emotional victim impact statements to Judge Trina Tompsett, and to Almena himself.

Colleen Dolan, mother of Chelsea Dolan, "I curse you with the pain in your bones and your muscles that comes from clenching in fear as you face the fury of a firestorm coming to consume you. I do not forgive you. I never will." Like most of the victims, Chelsea Dolan was trapped on the second floor of the warehouse-- a cluttered and unlicensed venue for a music concert that ended in a deadly fire in December 2016.

Andy Kershaw is the husband of Amanda Allen. Amanda was known for her glasses, which I received back twisted by heat and flame, covered in soot. I would never show those glasses to anyone now, because I don't want anyone else to have to see that."

Almena accepted a deal in January, pleading guilty to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter. He's been on house arrest since May, released due to the pandemic. Several family members urged Judge Thompson to throw out the deal. "I am repulsed by this plea agreement. You do not take responsibility for your actions. I am angry with this court in that it is a legal system, not a justice system."

An earlier plea deal was thrown out because a prior judge said Almena lacked remorse. Sketch artist Vickie Behringer described his demeanor in court today.

VICKI BEHRINGER: His reaction went from indifference to like, rocking, and looking down. And he almost looked like he was sobbing at a couple of times, but I can't know that.