FAIRFIELD — The “justice system revered all over the world” moved Wednesday to the multipurpose room at Rodriguez High School, where students saw a driving under the influence court trial and conviction.
Attorney David Gallegos, representing defendant Shane Entzel, praised protections the U.S. justice system provides and during his closing argument told the student advisory jury that “the prosecution doesn’t have the final word.”
“You do,” Gallegos said.
The word from the student jurors was guilty. Solano County Superior Court Commissioner Raymond C. Wieser Jr., who presided over the court trial and would decide the defendant’s fate, announced the same verdict earlier.
“This is a court trial,” he said. “I have to decide.”
Wieser sentenced the defendant to three years probation and other measures, as well as telling Entzel – as judges must in California – that if he is ever convicted again of driving under the influence and causes someone’s death, he could be charged with murder.
Do you understand, Wieser asked.
“Absolutely,” answered the defendant.
Entzel had said during a break in the proceedings, which were brought to the high school to show students the consequences of drinking and driving, that he agreed to appear in front of the students after his arrest in the Jan. 10 incident along Shoreline Circle in Fairfield, where he crashed into a tree.
“I was so grief-stricken afterward, it was the best thing I could do,” said Entzel, a 2011 graduate of Fairfield High School.
“I can’t walk past the tree without holding my head down,” he said.
Athena Colozza, 17, who was among the Rodriguez High seniors watching the proceedings, said it’s the first trial she’s witnessed.
“It’s slower,” she said of a real trial rather than what TV depicts. “But you get to hear both the prosecution and defense arguments.”
Jordan James, 17, who wants to attend law school, said of the trial: “The defense arguments are actually pretty good.”
Attorney Gallegos said the case involved Entzel driving too fast, but not under the influence – and noted the defendant didn’t try to leave the scene and cooperated with police.
But Rashaan Jones, deputy district attorney, in abbreviated form wrote 0.18 percent on a display and told student jurors: “This case is about the number I wrote on the paper.”
The defense attorney couldn’t explain the figure representing Entzel’s blood alcohol level.
“You have more than enough facts,” Jones said.
If something walks, quacks and moves like a duck, he said, it’s a duck – not a horse or a pig or a cow.
The trial at the high school in Fairfield follows DUI court trials March 19 at Jesse Bethel High School in Vallejo and March 27 at Dixon High School. The California Administrative Office of the Courts funds the program.
Rodriguez High social studies teacher Robert Bonifacio called the Wednesday event an education for students.
“It’s an amazing real life lesson,” he said.
Bonifacio said the high school he attended didn’t have anything like the DUI trial in Fairfield.
“I really wish we did,” he said.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.