By Martin J. Kidston
Defendant Anthony Montagino went before Judge Carol Chagnon in Hill County Justice Court on Thursday after spending the last 10 years on the lam.
Deputies reportedly caught up with Montagino at the Salvation Army Day Camp in Havre, where he was arrested on charges of riding his skateboard backwards on public streets.
Montagino is 10 years old, his attorney is seven and the judge was the only one in the court who could see over the top of her desk when confronting a witness.
The mock trial was part of a week-long study on local government. The students of the Salvation Army Day Camp, ages 6-12, toured the fire station and county courthouse earlier in the week, before embarking on the mock trial.
This week, the theme is city government, Camp Counselor Lisa Montagino said
When young Montaginos attorney, Zack Schmidt, went before the judge and jury to argue his clients innocence, the courtroom was in a hush except the crinkle of candy wrappers.
Where was he on that? Schmidt asked the prosecutions witness Cassie Pfifer, pointing to the sketch of the skateboard. Pfifer stuck to her story despite being under oath, and exclaimed that she had seen her brother, Montagino, riding backwards outside the library earlier in the week.
Her testimony was in direct conflict with Montaginos personal testimony.
You cant ride backwards on a skateboard, Montagino told the court, because you stand sideways on it.
Montagino also stated that he doesnt own a skateboard, and that he was on First Street at the time the witness claims to have seen him at the library.
The judge took a 10-minute recess in light of the testimony, which could not be backed by solid evidence.
After brief summations, the jury deliberated for 10 minutes before rendering its verdict.
We, the jury, find the defendant, Anthony Montagino, guilty as charged.
A hush fell over the courtroom.
Very well, Judge Chagnon said. I am left without choice to sentence the defendant to three days of municipal service.
Montagino was ordered to collect trash.
I hope you have learned your lesson, Judge Chagnon said, seemingly at odds with the jurys verdict.
After the trial, Lisa Montagino thanked Judge Chagnon for taking the time to work with the kids.
As for the that, there were strings attached such as lessons in integrity.
Did you get a good idea of how the court process works? Judge Chagnon asked the kids. Its important to tell the truth. Youre always going to get caught in a lie, because you cannot remember how you told the lie. But you can always remember the truth. If you lie, youre troubles will just keep getting bigger.
As for Montagino, he was released on his own recognizance pending bail.