Goldilocks avoids prison sentence during Law Days mock trial
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Goldilocks was found guilty Friday by a jury of her peers for breaking into a home where three Routt County bears were living.
She looked nervous as fifth-grade judge Max Lyman, with the help of Moffat County Judge Sandra Gardner, deliberated the sentence. The young jurors ultimately handed down a sentence of one and a half weeks community service at a senior center and probation and Goldilocks will not be allowed to commit any more crimes for a year. She will also have to pay for a broken chair.
“I could have told the bears that I was coming to the house, and I committed the crime of trespassing,” said Goldilocks, who was played by Emmy Watson at the mock trial.
Friday was the culmination of Law Days, an educational series put on by the 14th Judicial District that used to be a tradition and was recently revived.
“We used to do it all the time,” Routt County Judge James Garrecht said. “It’s always fun. I always liked it.”
Law Days have been held throughout October and have included classroom visits with local judges and attorneys, who taught Soda Creek Elementary School fifth-grade students about government and the legal system.
Nov 1, 7:30 p.m.: Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to a report of trespassing at a home occupied by three bears. A blonde girl broke into the home, ate porridge, broke a chair and then took a nap in one of the bear beds.
Friday was the field trip day featuring a mock trial, a visit with Garrecht and a tour of the Routt County Jail.
The enthusiastic group of kids asked questions throughout the morning.
“What happens if a judge commits a crime?” one student asked.
“Judges have to abide by the law,” Gardner explained.
The mock trial played out very similarly to an actual trial.
After raising their right paws and swearing to tell the truth, the bears testified they were about to eat their porridge, but it was too hot, so they went for a walk in the woods.
Goldilocks was also on a walk, and she was tired, cold and hungry, so she stopped by the bear residence, where she had accidentally broken a window the previous day.
“I thought they knew I was coming,” Emmy testified.
Instead, Goldilocks trespassed by entering the home and committed theft by eating the bears’ porridge.
“When I peeked in the house, I smelled this delicious porridge,” Emmy said.
And then she committed criminal mischief when she broke a chair. Goldilocks then took a nap in an upstairs bear bedroom.
After being told what being guilty beyond a reasonable doubt was, four separate juries deliberated, and they took it very seriously.
“I think she’s guilty but not guilty,” Angelica Varela said.
Two of the juries were hung, and the other two returned guilty verdicts. Goldilocks was then sentenced and able to avoid a three-year prison sentence, which is the maximum penalty for a Class 5 felony.
Chief Judge Michael O’Hara was happy to see Law Days revived.
“This whole thing opens them up to a branch of justice that people don’t watch,” O’Hara said.
It was also fun for the attorneys who participated.
“These fifth-graders are so interested and intelligent,” Routt County Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Tjosvold said. “They ask all the right questions.”
The teachers were also impressed.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the kids to learn about the legal system,” teacher Natalie Sattler said. “They are super engaged — non-stop questions. They just want to know about it.”
The experience got some of the kids interested in possibly becoming a lawyer or a judge.
“My friend told me I look like a lawyer,” said Victoria Santos, who was wearing a button-up shirt with a grey sports jacket.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.
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