FARMINGTON — The plaintiff's jaw dropped in shock as the jury's verdict was read.
"We, the jury, find the defendant, Curly Pig, not guilty of trying to cook the wolf," jury foreman Megan Kasparian said Tuesday.
Big B. Wolf, who preferred the name "B.B." and was brought to life by Aiden Lund, simply couldn't believe that a jury made up of 16 of his fellow third-graders found that Curly Pig had not tried to kill him with a boiling pot of water.
"I felt angry," Lund said. "I felt surprised."
The verdict came after a mock trial held in the courtroom of 2nd District Judge Thomas L. Kay. Kay presided over the proceeding — which included every third-grade class at Endeavour Elementary School — just as he has done for the past 13 years.
"It's probably the first time they've ever been in the courtroom, ever seen a judge," Kay said. "To have them see what's going on here is a really remarkable thing."
The judge largely got involved thanks to his wife, Kathy, who teaches third grade at Endeavour and organizes the students into their various roles. She said the trial is a great learning experience for the children.
"It's part of our curriculum," she said. "We teach government and what better way to teach it than to have hands-on experience with it?"
Though the trial was largely scripted, the students took their roles seriously and the jury's verdict is solely the decision of the students. Kathy Kay said it was a close call this year. In other years, the case has gone in favor of the wolf.
Even Mya Bland, who played Curly Pig, wasn't sure what to think about the verdict.
"I don't know," she said. "I think I'm not guilty, but I think it's weird the (recipe) book was open to 'Poached Wolf.'"
Mr. Wolf's attorney, Halle Preece, said the boiling cauldron of water and a cookbook turned to a page featuring a Poached Wolf recipe pointed to Curly Pig's guilt when it came to the charge of attempted wolf cooking. But Ms. Pig's attorney, Brynn Wilson, called the charge "ridiculous" and pointed to the wolf's history of killing the pig's siblings.
"Ms. Pig was merely protecting her home and her life," Wilson said.
It was quite a scene: The children using step stools to reach the podium, the solemnity with which they took the oath to tell the truth and the way Lund would roll his eyes every time he heard, "I'm going to huff and puff and blow your house down."
"I wouldn't do this if I didn't enjoy it," the judge said.
Wilson relished in the role. She pounded forcefully on the table when she had an objection and celebrated in the verdict.
"It was all just really fun," she said afterward. "It felt awesome."
She added that she actually hopes to be an attorney one day.
"It's a good experience for the students to see the court in action," Kathy Kay said. "It's good for them to have that."
The experience included more than just the trial, as the judge began by explaining the Bill of Rights to the children and explained the concept behind double jeopardy.
"If Curly Pig is found innocent or guilty, she can't be tried twice," Kay explained.
He took questions from the students and even compared them to cases he's faced in the past and to those currently in the court system. He also fielded a healthy number of "what if" questions about people sneaking guns into the courtroom before concluding.
"Don't use guns, don’t use knives," he told the students. "The best you can do is do well in school and listen to your Mom and Dad and you'll be fine."