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Feb 20, 2:14 PM EST

Ghost Ship defendants enter plead not guilty in party deaths


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Two California men have formally entered not guilty pleas on involuntary manslaughter charges in the deaths of 36 partygoers at a massive warehouse fire in the San Francisco Bay Area.

An Alameda County Superior Court judge on Tuesday set a July 16 trial date for Derick Almena and Max Harris, who the judge previously determined had a "substantial" role in managing the Ghost Ship warehouse.

Almena rented the warehouse known as the Ghost Ship that burned on Dec. 2, 2016, during an electronic music concert. Harris lived there, and a witness testified that Harris was in charge of the unpermitted concert.

The warehouse had been illegally converted into living space for artists and had no fire sprinklers.

The men's attorneys accuse the landlord and the city of improper oversight.

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