WILMINGTON — Was Jordan Ryder responsible for the death of her daughter?
That was the scenario for the Wilmington College mock trial team’s end-of-semester exercise at the Boyd Cultural Arts Center on Tuesday.
The case, provided by the American Mock Trial Association, was to determine the fate of Ryder, a fictitious mother accused of killing her 12-year-old daughter in a remote campground in the fictional state of Midlands.
Representing the prosecution were Parker Gunkel, Shelbi Mays, Kelsey Merriman and Leigh Ann Cartier. The defense was led by Ariana Riccardi, Kelly Johnson, Spencer Wilcox, Lucy Enge and Riley Gatlin.
Each team was asked to call witnesses (played by their fellow team members), present exhibits, argue evidentiary objections and make opening and closing statements.
At the end of the case, the team received praise and notes from audience members, faculty members, Clinton County Municipal Court Judge Mike Daugherty — who sat in as the judge for their case — and their coach, Katie Wright.
“I thought they were very well-prepared. They clearly knew the case. Trial work is very difficult and there are so many things to think about,” said Wright, an assistant professor of criminal justice at the college.
Wright felt the team’s knowledge of facts, laws, presenting evidence, and arguing objections were good.
“Obviously there will be some skills that need to be honed over time, but I thought this was a great start for the team,” said Wright. “This trial was to help prepare them to compete next semester.”
At the end, Judge Daugherty ruled in favor of the defense.
Wright said she’s excited to see the college taking part in mock trials again, especially since the students both enjoy them and are learning from them.
Wright, who is co-coaching this year’s team along with Katie Wilkin, Clinton County assistant prosecutor, encourages students to attend if they are interested in law or criminal justice (or from any major) in joining the team.
“No matter what their future holds, I want them to be leaving the school with the skills they’ve developed through a mock trial,” she said. “Those skills are basic advocacy skills, being able to think on their feet, being able to have grace under pressure, to go up against an adversary and be professional but assertive, and to trust themselves.”
The team’s next competition is at the Dayton School of Law in February.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574