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Students serve as judge, jury & prosecutor
pic mock-trial-1a
From left, Paradize Murphy, Allen Tangonan, and Ivan Abarca await the verdict Thursday of the Careers in Law Enforcement mock trial held at the Manteca Unified school farm complex. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

Shannon Jacobson was found guilty of first degree murder in Thursday’s mock trial conducted by students of the Regional Occupational Program’s Careers in Law Enforcement.

The verdict was unanimous. Unlike an actual trial, a majority decision was needed in the faux case, Shannon J. Jacobson vs. the State of California, due to time.

“That’s the first time it’s happened in my years of doing this (two-part exercise),” said instructor Joe Waller.

The decision occurred during his first period class consisting of Weston Ranch High students. The key players were Michelle Anne Ceniza and Martha Navarrette as the prosecution, and Paradize Murphy and Allen Tangonan in defense of Ivan Abarca in the role of Jacobson alias Shaky.

Waller’s auxiliary classroom at the Manteca Unified school farm complex was converted into a court room. Included were judge – in this case, David Molina – bailiff, court administrator, court clerk, and expert witnesses.

This was the same room used last month as the scene of the crime. It was here, the Star Bar, where Shaky was arrested in the shooting death of Jerry Lee Lewis alias Sneaky Pete. The incident came in the aftermath of a barroom brawl involving Jacobson and Lewis, with the latter fatally struck by multiple gunfire.

Navarrette, on behalf of the prosecution, displayed the sequence of the shooting, using the prop gun taken from the scene as evidence.

The jury was made up of ROP students from other classes.

Murphy did likewise, slamming an actual pool stick to simulate the blunt force used by his client’s attacker. He and Tangonan argued that Jacobson’s action was self defense.

“We were hoping for an acquittal,” said Tangonan, who spent the past five days rehearsing the script with Murphy.

In the end, Navarrette and Ceniza, who both share an interest in the judicial side of the law, were confident of their efforts.

“I thought we did enough to get a conviction (for first-degree murder),” Ceniza said. “It would have been frustrating if we didn’t get it.”

The jury wasted little time delivering the verdict, voting 12-0.

For the most part, they agreed that Jacobson’s action of returning to the Star Bar armed with a hand gun in retaliation of the earlier beating showed intent.

“He shot more than once and had time to think about his actions,” one juror said.

Murphy and Tangonan wished they had used Waller’s argument that Sneaky Pete was nearly twice the size of Shaky, thus, firing the gun multiple times.

“(Shaky) feared for his life,” said Waller.