By Alena Willbur
On Feb. 22 and 23, from 6 p.m.-10 p.m., Villanova’s Mock Trial team stepped into the Ventura County Superior Courts. As the team awaited the first round match-ups, they went over the case in a rigorous manner, the nerves clearly stimulating adrenaline.
This year the Mock Trial case deals with the fictional scenario regarding second degree murder in People v. Hayes. In the competition, the teams are split into the two sides of the case: prosecution and defense.
The situation of the case begins with the defendant, a college student named Jamie Hayes. Hayes swung a baseball bat at Officer Lee Valdez upon seeing his track teammate Casey Barnes being choked by Valdez, or so he claims. Upon the death of Officer Valdez two weeks after Hayes hit him, the district attorney charged Hayes for second degree murder; however, the defense argues his actions were justified.
Finally, the first matchup was posted. The prosecution lawyers at Villanova, Hemy Yue (‘16), Marcus Braun (‘19), Gabe Roy (‘19), and Jasmine Pham (‘17), along with prosecution witnesses Rachael Moreno (‘16), Jessica Poland (‘17), Madeline McEwen (‘19), Julie Rios (‘19), and clerk Krisi Aromin (’16), were first up against Newbury Park Gold, one of the best teams in the competition. With many new lawyers on the Villanova prosecution team, this matchup was intimidating, but they were up for the fight. As courtroom artist Guyon Perez (’18) vigorously sketched the intense courtroom atmosphere, witnesses fought against their cross examiners while their lawyers rushed to defend. By the end of the match, the team’s efforts were merited congratulations.
However, after the nerve-wracking first round of the competition, Villanova’s defense team, lawyers Alena Willbur (‘16), Anastasia Marks (‘17), Kaelyn Schlegel (‘18), and Sophia Rasura (‘18), defense witnesses Richard Yang (‘16), Jessica Schott (‘17), Emma Randolph (‘18), and Jack Cassedy (‘19), and bailiff Celeste Arellano (’16), swept the courtroom against St. Augustine High School. The experienced defense lawyers received commendation for their performance from the attorney judges, who noted that they had significantly improved from last year’s competition.
The Mock Trial competition ended at approximately 10:45 that night, and the team was rewarded with a late start the following day to recharge for day two of the competition.
On day two, with every member knowing what to expect, the defense was up first against Santa Paula High School, and the prosecution followed against Santa Susana High School. No competition was the same, to say the least. Each judge ruled either a verdict of not guilty of second degree murder or guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Although these rulings are not taken into account in the scoring for the competition, the verdicts reflected how convincingly each side formed their arguments.
When asked about whether or not they would participate in Mock Trial next year, freshmen Madeline McEwen and Marcus Braun answered, “Yes, definitely. I can’t wait until next year!” This is the attitude most of the first-timers on the team expressed after the competition.
The results were sent in the following day, reporting Villanova Preparatory School a 2-2 win-loss. Congratulations to the team for their victories, as well as moderators Mrs. Carroll and Mr. Carrol and attorney coach Randy Wells, for their admirable hard work.
The awards ceremony will took place Monday, Feb. 29 at 6 p.m. at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center, where Anastasia Marks won the first place defense attorney award in Ventura County.