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Unscripted Mock Trial

State v. Freeman

Frost is dead. She was a partner in a restaurant and was found frozen in the restaurant’s cooler. There was a history of gambling problems and outstanding loans.  Was it murder or just bad luck?

Willy Freeman Case Materials – Part 1

Willy Freeman Case Materials – Part 2

Massachusetts Bar’s Mock Trial Suggestions for Student Attorneys

Massachusetts Bar’s Mock Trial Suggestions for Student Witnesses

Background

The defendant, Willy Freeman, has been charged with the murder of his/her business partner, Devin Frost. Devin Frost apparently had a gambling problem, and had been unlucky for some period of time. Thinking that her luck would change, Devin borrowed money frequently from a local loan shark, Lou Contralto.

However, Devin’s luck didn’t change and, under pressure for payment from Lou, Devin started stealing money from the business. With skyrocketing interest and continued gambling losses, Devin’s debt to the loan shark was still over $200,000, even after she had drained the business dry. Contralto had already given Devin several violently physical “messages” that the debt was to be paid – “or else.”

In the meantime, Willy hired an accountant to determine why the business was in the red. When Willy learned that Devin had been stealing from the business and had driven it into bankruptcy, Willy allegedly became enraged and threatened to kill Devin.

A few days later, Devin was found dead, and through a Buy-Sell Agreement and insurance policy, Willy would become a half million dollars richer. Was Devin murdered? If so, who is the culprit?

Indictment

cooler

The Cooler

The Grand Jury of the county of Edgewater upon their oath or affirmation do present that WILLY A. FREEMAN on or about the 20th day of March, 2010 at the county of Edgewater in the state of Oregon intentionally did murder DEVIN FROST, in violation of 11 Crim. C. § 636.

Stipulated Facts

  • The autopsy of Devin Frost concluded that Frost died as a result of hypothermia. Hypothermia causes the body to be pale and waxy, not cyanotic, because the blood withdraws from the skin by the body’s defensive mechanisms to avoid loss of heat.
  • Time of death could not be determined from typical physical examination of the body, i.e. body temperature, because the body was frozen.
  • The autopsy results dated the cigarette burns found on Frost to have occurred two weeks prior to death, and strangulation of neck, non-life-threatening, to have occurred less than one week prior to death.
  • Fingerprint analysis shows that Freeman’s fingerprints are on the padlock to the cooler, cooler door, and kitchen knife. Contralto’s fingerprints were not detected on the padlock to the cooler, cooler door, or doors to the restaurant.
  • Exhibits 2, 3, 4 and 5 were made at or about the time of the events by a person with knowledge of the events, and are kept in the course of regularly conducted business activity, and it is the regular practice to make such records.
  • Exhibit 8 is the original photograph taken by Detective Riggs at the scene of the crime and accurately depicts the victim and the surroundings at the time of Detective Riggs’ investigation.
  • Exhibit 10 is a true and accurate copy of the original note of Devin Frost provided by Defendant Freeman shortly after being charged with the murder of Frost. The handwriting contained in Exhibit 10 has been confirmed to be that of Devin Frost, per expert handwriting analysis. The original note was to be analyzed using inkdating techniques. Prior to undergoing the inkdating analysis, a copy of the original note was made. The original note disappeared from the evidence room prior to the inkdating analysis. Therefore, the dating of the handwriting on the note cannot be determined. Exhibit 10 is admissible, without objection.

Controlling Law

Murder in the First Degree [Intentional Killing]

Under Oregon law, a person is guilty of Murder in the First Degree when [he/she] intentionally causes the death of another person. In other words, in order to find the defendant guilty of Murder in the First Degree, you must find that each of the following two elements has been established beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • First, the defendant caused Devin Frost’s death
  • Second, the defendant acted intentionally

In order to prove that the defendant “caused” Devin Frost’s death, the State must establish that Devin Frost would not have died but for the defendant’s conduct. “Intentionally” means that it was the defendant’s conscious objective or purpose to cause Devin Frost’s death.

Jury Instructions

If, after considering all the evidence, you find that the State has established beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted in such a manner as to satisfy all of the elements stated above, on or about the date and at the place stated in the indictment, you should find the defendant guilty of Murder in the First Degree.

If you find that the State has not proved every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, then you must find the defendant not guilty of Murder in the First Degree

Exhibits List

Exhibit 1. Les Moore, CPA, CFE
Exhibit 2. Ticket Order and Cash Register Receipt
Exhibit 3. Deposit Slip and Cash Register Receipt
Exhibit 4. Check and Check Register
Exhibit 5. Buy-Sell Agreement
Exhibit 6. Investigation Report
Exhibit 7. Supplemental Investigation Report
Exhibit 8. Photograph
Exhibit 9. Padlock Reciept
Exhibit 10. Menu Notes
Exhibit 11. Pat Ives, Curriculum Vitae

For the United States

U.S. Attorneys

  • Prosecuting Attorney
  • Assistant Prosecutor(s)

Witnesses

  • Leslie Moore, accountant
  • Chris Riggs, police detective
  • Lou Contralto, loan shark

For the Defendant, Willy Freeman

Defense Attorneys

  • Lead Defense Attorney
  • Assistant Defense Attorney(s)

Witnesses

  • Willy Freeman, defendant
  • Joel/Joelle Byrd, jailhouse snitch
  • Pat Ives, criminologist, private investigator

Case Materials

Witness statements, etc.

Willy Freeman Case Materials – Part 1

Willy Freeman Case Materials – Part 2