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Same case, different juries, different verdicts
pic rop-trial-3a
Prosecutors Brandyn Griffin and Melissa Quismorio are all smiles after hearing the verdict. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
WESTON RANCH – In the 10 years or so of conducting the mock trial involving those in the Regional Occupational Programs, Joe Waller has yet to reach a consensus on the verdict from all three classes.

Tuesday was no different.

In the fictional Shannon James Jacobson versus the State of California, the jury at New Vision Education Center found the defendant – Kenan Williams, a Weston Ranch High student in the Health Careers class, filled the role as Jacobson, who, in this case, was better known as “Shakey” - guilty of first degree murder.

Waller, who also teaches two Careers in Law Enforcement classes at Manteca’s Lindbergh Education Center, came up with just the opposite verdict in his morning session.

He said the annual two-part exercise was a concerted effort involving Law Enforcement students and those in the ROP Health and Computer classes. The latter served as members of the jury.

East Union High senior Omar Ornelas had a chance to witness all three sessions.

In the morning class, he served as a defense attorney.

At Weston Ranch, Ornelas played the role of the judge. He was looking forward to just observing during the third mock trial scheduled for that day.

“I really liked working as a defense attorney,” he said. “But as judge, it was a different sort of experience.

“In this role of authority, the court had to listen to whatever I said.”

Omar Lara and Chris Fleckenstein served as defense attorneys at New Vision mock trial. “We thought we made a solid case (on behalf of our client),” Fleckenstein said.

Waller, who developed the script, described Shakey as “130 pounds soaking wet.”

On the other hand, Jerry Lee Lewis or “Sneaky Pete” is a man twice his size at 6-foot-4, 270 pounds. In an incident that occurred last month at the fictional Star Bar Sports Lounge, Shakey, who had his jaw broken in two places by Sneaky Pete, gunned down his assailant, firing multiple shots.

Waller developed the script by drawing on his experience as a military police. On numerous occasions, he was called on fracases that took place in bars.

Waller later added the domestic disturbance involving Shakey and his girlfriend Jackie, who encounters Sneaky Pete at the Star Bar during that fatal evening, to the script.

For the sake of time, the jury’s verdict relied on simply on a majority decision. The 12-member New Vision group voted 9-3 on the guilty plea.

Many believed that Shakey’s action were premeditated based on his actions of returning to the Star Bar about a half-hour after being struck in the face with a cue stick by Sneaky Pete.

Meanwhile, the prosecuting team of Brandyn Griffin and Melissa Quismorio were thrilled with the verdict.

“It showed that we did a good job,” Quismorio said.

Griffin agreed.

“We were confident that the jury would see things our way,” he said.