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News / Clark County News

Mock trial teams argue assault case hinging on claim of self defense

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Local News Editor
Published: February 15, 2018, 8:28pm
3 Photos
Cascadia Technical Academy students from left, Cameron Achziger, Justin Bates and David Guiher, listen as Camas High School freshman Hayden Devore, who acted as a lawyer for the defense, center, gives opening statements during a mock trial Thursday at the Clark County Courthouse.
Cascadia Technical Academy students from left, Cameron Achziger, Justin Bates and David Guiher, listen as Camas High School freshman Hayden Devore, who acted as a lawyer for the defense, center, gives opening statements during a mock trial Thursday at the Clark County Courthouse. (Ariane Kunze/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

High school students were tasked Thursday with convincing a jury whether a confrontation over loud music that led to a shooting and left a man in a coma was done in self-defense.

The scenario, though certainly plausible, is of course fictional.

Students presented the case of “Won’t Back Down,” a felony assault case in which the defendant claimed self-defense, as part of the annual Clark County Mock Trial Tournament.

Nine teams from seven schools participated in the two-day tournament, which wrapped up Thursday, at the Clark County Courthouse.

Among the participating schools were two teams from Camas High School and Cascadia Technical Academy. Team 2 from both schools went head-to-head Thursday afternoon.

Results

Winner, Division 1: Cascadia Technical Academy Team 1

Winner, Division 2: Cascadia Technical Academy Team 2

Best Witness: Tristin Willis of Morton High School;

Best Attorney: Nora Robinson of Columbia High School (White Salmon).

Cascadia Tech’s Cameron Achziger, playing a prosecutor, said in his opening statement that defendant Grace Dula shot the victim, John Umber, in cold blood over music he was playing too loudly in his parked car. Dula — played by Camas’ Momina Naushab — lived in a nearby second-story apartment, heard the music and snapped. The two had apparently engaged in a prior altercation.

Achziger said Dula grabbed her pistol and confronted Umber. She broke his driver’s side window and pulled Umber from the car. When she started to run away, she stopped, turned and shot him. He remained in a coma at the time of the fictional trial.

Achziger argued that Dula “took the law into her own hands,” and the jury should find her guilty of first-degree assault.

Camas’ Hayden DeVore told a different story on behalf of his client.

He said Dula heard the loud music and decided to confront the offender. She did not realize it was Umber until she went to his car. Dula had armed herself with a pistol, DeVore said, because she lived in a seedy neighborhood.

Dula repeatedly knocked on Umber’s driver’s side window and then tapped her pistol against it, accidentally breaking the glass. DeVore said Umber leapt from his car and tackled Dula. They wrestled on the ground until she broke free.

That’s when Umber threw what appeared to be a knife past Dula’s head and charged at her. She shot him.

The only thing the defense and prosecution seemed to agree on was that after the shooting, Dula dismantled her pistol and called 911.

Cascadia Tech started its case by calling Detective Pat Neffbetter, played by Kaylee Young, to testify.

The trial was presided over by defense attorney David Schultz and rated by three attorneys who played jurors.

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