PITTSBURG — On Friday, fourth grade jurors at Lakeside Elementary School decided Jack was not guilty of murdering the Giant.
The three-day mock trial involved all fourth graders. It took jurors about 45 minutes to come up with a verdict that could have ended with Jack, played by Kaidyn Dean, sitting in Storyville prison for a long time.
“I’m not a murderer,” Dean yelled in the background before the verdict was read.
When asked if the defense represented him well, Dean replied: “No, not at all.” Still, jurors found it good enough.
The defense and prosecution were both allowed to make up characters and their stories for six witnesses. It got interesting when the witnesses were cross examined, as many stories began to fall apart.
The defense argued that on July 1, 2016, the Giant died of a heart attack while chasing Jack and Mrs. Giant allowed Jack in the house to take the goose and golden egg.
Before the verdict, defense attorney Jay-Lynn Knight thought her side made a good argument and called the mock trial “super, duper fun.”
Her co-attorney, Brian Chatman, was not so sure about their argument.
“It is really hard trying to prove someone is innocent when you think they are guilty,” he said.
Prosecutor Sarah Winzer also felt her side made a strong argument.
“I think it went pretty well,” Winzer said. “But now it’s in the hands of the jury.”
Aniston Gavrilys was one of the 12 jurors. Gavrilys, who leaned towards guilty before deliberations, would jot down notes on the case and stared intently at the evidence when passed around by bailiffs.
The evidence included a stuffed goose, golden egg and the “murder weapon,” a cardboard cutout of an ax with aluminum foil wrapped around it.
Students read a version of the book at the beginning of the year and learned about the court process before the trial.
“It makes it come to life for the children,” said fourth grade teacher Babs Tims.
This year, fourth grade teachers Tims, Adam Brown and Ellen Goode even brought in an actual court reporter, who gave fourth grade actors Kayleigh Keller, Kyndra Davis and Sahara Garcia an old stenotype machine as a prop.
The girls learned a court reporter punches a key based on the word’s sound. Although none of the girls knew how to use the stenotype machine, one would punch buttons while the others took notes on paper.
Fourth graders have been doing a mock trial for the last few years, Tims said. This is the second time for the children’s story Jack and the Beanstalk. Tims was unsure what the mock trial would be next year.
Extra personnel on all facets of the courtroom allowed a majority of the roughly 65 fourth graders to be in the case while the others watched.
— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.