No convictions in 2016 warehouse fire that killed 36, including Lincoln native

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- A jury has acquitted one man of involuntary manslaughter but couldn't reach a verdict for the leader of an artists' commune accused of turning a California warehouse into a cluttered maze that trapped 36 partygoers during a fast-moving fire.

Nicole Siegrist, who went by the stage name Denalda Nicole Renae, died in the 2016 fire. Siegrist, who was an artists, musician and model, graduated from Lincoln Southwest High School and attended UNL.

In 2016, friends told 10/11 NOW Siegrist moved to Oakland to try and find like-minded artists and musicians.

Jurors on Thursday found Max Harris not guilty but said they could not unanimously agree on whether to convict or acquit Derick Almena of involuntary manslaughter. They have deliberated since Aug. 26.

Brian Getz, a lawyer for Almena, said "people shouldn't forget what happened to those 36" in December 2016. A judge declared a mistrial for Almena.

The December 2016 fire broke out during an electronic music party at the so-called Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland.

Prosecutors said the men were criminally negligent when they illegally converted the building into a residence for artists and held unpermitted events.

The defendants said government workers failed to raise concerns about fire hazards in the warehouse.

Getz said people were living in substandard housing because they couldn't afford the San Francisco Bay Area's expensive rents.

Tyler Smith, an attorney for Harris, agreed that those living in the illegally converted warehouse "would have been on the streets otherwise."

Alameda County Chief Assistant District Attorney Kevin Dunleavy said prosecutors are going to evaluate their approach as they move forward against Almena.

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