DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – An iconic fairy tale character was put on trial Friday in Dayton. The mock trial has been a tradition for a Dayton judge and students for more than three decades.
The “Big Bad Wolf” was the defendant in the courtroom after allegations by “Little Red Riding Hood” that he ate all the cookies she was taking to grandma’s house.
This story has been playing out in Dayton Municipal Court since 1989, started by Dayton Municipal Judge Daniel Gehres.
He started it as a teaching opportunity for area students to learn how our courts works. This time, it was first and second grade students from St. Charles Borromeo School in Kettering.
“This is a way to introduce the court system to them in kind of a very non-threatening way where they can come down, find out who a judge is, who a prosecutor is, who a defense attorney is, how the witnesses do it, and then how they arrive at their decision,” Judge Gehres said.
This trial is significant for Judge Gehres because it was the last time he presided from the bench. Judge Gehres is retiring at the end of this year.
“It really meant a lot to me,” Judge Gehres said. “I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do it, but my my staff and my family said, ‘Oh, you’ve got to do it one more time.'”
To mark this special occasion, the trial turned into a family affair. The judge’s sons, daughter-in-law, and wife all played a role.
“it’s just a great opportunity for the whole family to come together, for my dad to have another chance to present his case for the kids,” Montgomery County Prosecutor Assistant Frank Gehres, who is Judge Gehres’ son and played the prosecutor on Friday, said.
For his last trial, the jury came to an almost unprecedented verdict by finding the Big Bad Wolf guilty.
“Out of all the years we’ve done it, this is only the second time the Big Bad Wolf has been convicted,” Judge Gehres said.
While Judge Gehres is closing this chapter in his career, he said it’s not the end of the Big Bad Wolf Trials.
“My son, Franklin, who was the the prosecutor today, he was there for the very first trial,” Judge Gehres said. “It means a lot when you’re able to see your kids launch and do well and knowing that he’ll be down here carrying on the name and carrying on the big bad wolf trial.”
Franklin Gehres is running for Dayton Municipal Judge on the November ballot.