Workers and emergency responders look at a warehouse in which a fire claimed the lives of at least thirty-six people on December 5, 2016 in Oakland, California.

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Witness Testimony Begins In Ghost Ship Trial

Holly Quan
May 06, 2019 - 7:04 am

The first witness to testify in the Ghost Ship trial is expected to be the mother of one of the victims in the deadly 2016 warehouse fire. 

The prosecution plans to summon Carol Sidlik to the stand on Monday. Sidlik received a text message from her daughter Nicole Seigrist that said "I'm gong to die" as a fire broke out during a crowded party at the illegally converted warehouse, according to attorneys. 

Attorneys for Max Harris, one of two defendants in the case have tried to prevent Sidlik from testifying ,saying that she will only tug at the heartstrings of the jurors and create an undue prejudice.

"We're not entirely refuting the prosecution's account of the fire and how people died. We don't dramatically disagree on that," said Harris' lawyer Curtiss Briggs.

Related: At Start Of Ghost Ship Trial, Video Shows Defendants Misled Police About Warehouse

Defense attorneys are also trying to block the testimony of Samuel Maxwell who survived the fire, but spent five weeks in a coma and now must use a wheelchair. 

During opening statements last week, Almena's lawyer Tony Serra said there is evidence that suggests the fire was started by arsonists. The prosecutors have argued that it was caused by disregard for safety by Harris and Almena.

Harris and Derick Almena, the warehouse's master tenant, face 36 counts of manslaughter.