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School leaders serve on Shakeys jury; find him innocent of murder
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From left, Ryan Fox, who served as the defense attorney in the Shannon J. Jacobson vs. the State of California mock trial, celebrates the not-guilty verdict while his client Christian Gonzalez as Jacobson is all smiles on the good news. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

Tyler Gonzalez was pleased with the verdict.

Never mind the Manteca High senior was still in the role of Shannon J. Jacobson, better known as Shakey in Friday’s annual mock trial involving his fellow students in the Regional Occupational Program’s Careers in Law Enforcement class.

Accused of the shooting death of Jerry Lee Lewis, alias Sneaky Pete, Gonzalez’s character was found innocent of first-degree murder during a two-part exercise held in the auxiliary classroom of Manteca Unified School District’s school farm complex.

“I thought we did a good job of making our case,” said Ryan Fox, also an MHS senior.

He and Josephine Valdez from East Union served as Jacobson’s defense team, going up against prosecutors’ Talya Miller of East Union and Tyler Cash of MHS. They were tabbed in those roles by instructor Joe Waller, who has conducted these mock trials for the better part of 14 years.

But he brought a different spin to his late morning class by pulling together a distinguished jury from around the district led by Superintendent Jason Messer. Energy Education Specialist and Sustainability Coordinator Victoria Brunn served as the head juror.  She slowly read out the verdict.

Gonzalez was all smiles on the not-guilty verdict, while Fox clenched both fists in celebration.

Like his earlier class, Waller received another 7-5 not-guilty verdict. A simple majority from the jury was necessary because of time.

Last year, all three of his classes voted guilty.

“I don’t think he was culpable of first-degree murder,” said Brunn, who voted not guilty.

She also couldn’t justify the intent to kill by Jacobson (Gonzalez).

Jury members, in addition, pointed out to the size difference between Shakey (5-feet, 7-inches tall, 130 pounds) to Sneaky Pete (6-2, 240) and that the accused had sustained a broken jaw at the hands of the victim Lewis, who used a cue stick to do the damage earlier in the day of the shooting at the fictional Star Bar lounge.

After receiving medical treatment for a broken jaw, Shakey returned to the Star Bar, where a second altercation resulted in the shooting death.

The randomness of the fatal bullet wounds to the victim swayed one juror to vote not guilty.

“Win or lose, I thought both (legal) teams did a great job,” said Waller.

 In order for a not-guilty verdict, the jurors, during the mock trial, looked for bad intentions, unlawfulness, planning of the killing, and the crime being premeditated.

Messer, who recommended doing the jury duty, couldn’t remember the last time he was called for jury duty. “But I did enjoy doing this one,” he said.