July 17, 2012
By ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer
YMCA Summer Camp students got a feel for the courtroom on Monday during the trial of Snow White v. Eve L. Queen.
The mock trial was held in the courtroom at the Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center and Museum. The script for the trial was written by the Martinsville Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office summer interns and Victim/Witness Program and presented by the YMCA Summer campers.
Like a regular court proceeding, the students acted as witnesses, members of the jury, a judge, a bailiff, a clerk, a defense attorney, a prosecuting attorney, the victim and the defendant.
At issue in the trial was whether Eve L. Queen was guilty of the attempted murder of Snow White with a poisoned apple.
The prosecuting attorney for White’s argument, portrayed by Krista Martin, a rising seventh-grader at Martinsville Middle School, argued that Queen, portrayed by Mindy Duenas, a rising seventh-grader at Laurel Park Middle School, gave Snow White the poisonous apple in an attempt to kill her.
After taking a bite of the apple, Snow White fell into a deep sleep, the prosecutor stated. Soon after, the seven dwarfs found her and placed her in a glass coffin. Had the prince not come when he did and kissed White, or had she been left in the deep sleep a day longer, she may have died, the prosecutor added.
Queen’s defense attorney, portrayed by Kendall Motley, a rising fourth-grader at Rich Acres Elementary School, asserted that Queen never would try to kill her own stepdaughter. In a fit of jealousy and anger, White ran off into the woods on her own, where she might have eaten a poisonous plant or perhaps a bad apple, the defense attorney said. Queen was concerned about her stepdaughter and didn’t know where she was, so she couldn’t have attempted to kill her, and she wouldn’t have wanted to, the attorney added.
Witnesses presented their respective accounts. One witness said he never saw Queen give the apple to White; another said he believed Queen decided to take care of White herself after the Huntsman couldn’t perform his duties of killing her; and another witness said that there were poisonous mushrooms where the Huntsman took White in the woods.
After the jury heard from the witnesses, defense attorney and the prosecutor, they deliberated briefly. They emerged from a separate room to announce their verdict — not guilty. The courtroom erupted in cheers — and a few boos from Snow White’s supporters.
This is the internship program’s second year incorporating the YMCA students in a mock trial. The interns felt it was important to include the younger students so they could see how the court process works versus what they see on television, said Vicky Belcher, director of victim/witness program.
Motley had never been in a courtroom before and was surprised by how big the jury box was because it looks smaller on television, she said.
She added that she realized that in a courtroom, one must “be patient and always quiet.”
It was fun to hear what each side had to say, and Motley enjoyed the chance to argue with the other side, she said.
Martin enjoyed acting as the prosecutor and realized that someone can be found not guilty because of a lack of evidence, she said.
She also learned that the jury is chosen from a pool of registered voters.
Duenas took her role as Queen seriously, and “I felt like I was her,” she said. She took offense when people were blaming her for the attempted murder of Snow White and got loud a few times in the courtroom to defend herself because she felt she was not respected, she added.
“I liked to pretend to be somebody else,” she said.
Duenas also realized how long a trial takes since the judge must hear from all sides. “I figured it would take five minutes or so,” she added.
The commonwealth’s attorney’s internship program has high school and college-age students who gain general experience with office procedures and courtroom procedures. Each week, the interns sit in on client interviews and attend sessions in juvenile and domestic relations district court and general district court, according to Belcher.
The interns from mid-May through June provided a presentation on shoplifting to the Martinsville City Council in June, and the July interns soon will provide a presentation to Martinsville City School officials and the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge about mandatory reporting of child abuse, according to Meghan Hall-Schroeter, intern supervisor.
Intern Brandon Fretwell, a Radford University student studying criminal justice, has enjoyed the internship program. By sitting in on trials, he has learned how much discretion a judge has on the sentencing, he said.
Due to his interest in law enforcement, it has been interesting for him to see how an arrest proceeds into court, Fretwell added.
Twenty students participated with the YMCA group.
The script was written by the following nine interns during the mid-May through June internship session: Bronwyn Hairston, Seth Clark, Brandon Fretwell, Janika Hunt, Tim Merritt, Taylor Stone, Jasmine Thompson, Mitchell Turner and Hall-Schroeter. Belcher and Cathy Burton from Martinsville Commonwealth's Attorney's Office also helped write the script.
The following interns attended the mock trial for the July internship session: Bridget Farmer, Brittany Boitnott, Brittany Darnell, Austin Shumate, Zach McPeak, Diandra Thompson, Elivia Wimmer, Abria Johnson, DeAnna Perkins, Jalen Dillard, Haley Keen and Taylor Mabry. Fretwell also attended because he is interning most of the summer with the commonwealth attorney’s office through the New College Institute.
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