Families were happy with the judge's decision to reject the plea deal after taking their comments and the defendants' into consideration.
Alameda County Judge James Cramer heard from Almena and Harris as they expressed sorrow over what happened on December 2, 2016 -- speaking face to face with victims' families. Thirty-six lives were lost in the massive blaze.
Families thought Harris expressed a lot of remorse in his comments but didn't think Almena accepted full responsibility for his role in the events that led to the inferno.
"Definitely Almena is not remorseful," said Ivania Chavarria, a victim's mom.
And the judge agreed. Cramer was OK with the plea agreement for Harris, but not for Almena. Since this was a package deal, he had to accept it for both or neither.
Almena's defense attorney, Tony Serra, doesn't think his client will receive a fair trial given the amount of media attention this case has received.
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"You see the victims' families are very adamant, and I empathize with their perspective, even though I think it's a little bit irrational but they want 36 years," Serra said, referring to a year in jail for each of the victims killed.
What happens next is still unclear. They can go to trial or resubmit a new plea deal.
Legal counsel is expected to meet with the judge on Aug. 17 to decide how to move forward.
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