Brawley Defends Crown

TODD KRAININ PHOTO FROM RIGHT: Fire Marshal Samuels, played by Christian Servera, recounts his discovery of crucial evidence while Judge Joseph Zimmerman listens during mock trial competitions Tuesday.

Brawley Union High senior Sophia Carrillo has already been accepted to the University of San Diego’s pre-law program and has interned at the Imperial County District Attorney’s Office in Brawley. So it was no surprise that she seemed at home in the Imperial County Superior Courthouse in front of Judge Joseph Zimmerman on Tuesday night.

“This is what I want to be someday,” said Carrillo, the captain of Brawley’s mock trial team. “It’s what I want.”

Carrillo, the lead prosecuting attorney, argued that defendant Leslie Lane committed arson and incited a riot at a religious compound on July 22. Zimmerman found Lane guilty of inciting a riot and not guilty of the arson, which led to the burning of a community center on the “New Believers” compound in “Woodville.”

Battling Calexico High School’s team, Brawley began defense of its Imperial County mock trial championship. “We’ve been working on this for a long time,” Carrillo said. “And it seems that over the last few years we’ve endured some tough losses.”

The biggest loss for the Brawley team came a year and a half ago when former teammate Samantha Brown died. Carrillo said the memory of Brown helped carry the team to its championship last year and is still with the team now.

“The past has always been an inspiration,” Carrillo said. “And for us, we’ve always been underdogs and we’ve been very motivated.”

TODD KRAININ PHOTO Carissa Miller (right) of Brawley Union High School
reacts to the defense’s objectio

Sherrie Newell, coach for Brawley’s team, said each of the previous years she’s felt some anxiety and nervousness just before competitions have begun.

Even as defending champion, she said that didn’t change Tuesday night.

"I just always have that same feeling,” she said. “I think it’s that I just want my team to do very well.”

If Newell wasn’t sure how her team performed, one of the judges, local attorney Steve Honse, vouched for the defending champion.

“You are about as good as I’ve ever seen,” he said. “You guys are like a machine.”

The mock trial season will continue through Feb. 19 with an awards banquet Feb. 24. Results for Tuesday were not available as of press time

Article Reprinted Courtesy of Imperial Valley Press