Crime Watch: Mock trial teaches students about dating violence

Dating violence awareness month comes to an end Tuesday, but some Hays County high school students will likely carry the message for life.

In this week’s Crime Watch, FOX 7's Noelle Newton shows how domestic violence advocates used a mock trial to hopefully save lives.

Dripping Springs High School senior Emily Blythe takes the stand in a Hays County courtroom. She isn't really on trial. This is a "mock" assignment. Her role is domestic violence victim "Amber."

As the prosecutor laid out for the jury, Amber is accusing her fiance of drugging her, beating her and leaving her to die in the woods.

"After I took the drinks I woke up in a ravine. I was sore all over and honestly, I felt like I'd fallen off a ten story building,” said Blythe.

Wyatt Cross, who plays the abusive fiance, defends himself.

"Whenever she's sober she's pretty level-headed and we can have an adult conversation, but that didn't happen that day. We were just basically yelling at each other,” said Cross.

Teams of students weigh the evidence and determine a verdict. Just when they think everything is over Hays County District Attorney Wes Mau delivers a bombshell.

"This is Amber Lowery. The real Amber Lowery,” Mau says showing a photo to students.

Amber is a real person. Unlike the character played in court, Amber did not survive. Mike Lowery, Amber's husband and the father of her two children, is serving a life sentence for her murder.

"Mike Lowery claimed to love Amber Lowery, but he sawed up her body, chopped her into bits and burned the pieces,” said Mau. "I wish that case had only been an assault case and not a murder case."

Mau pleaded with the students to intervene if they know someone involved in a violent relationship.

"It's better to lose a friend because you tried to help them. Than to lose a friend because you didn't,” said Mau.

Locally, two Texas State University students have lost their lives in domestic violence situations within the past five years.

Tiffanie Perry was shot by her ex-boyfriend who then fatally shot himself in 2010 and Hailey Nicholls whose ex-boyfriend broke into her apartment in 2013, shot her and the her current boyfriend before driving his vehicle off a cliff.

But as Marla Johnson, executive director of the Hays-Caldwell Women's Center says it doesn't have to end that way.

"There's always hope. There's no situation that is hopeless,” said Johnson.

Impactful words especially for those who have lived it.

"My grandmother kind of had, not kind of, she had a verbally abusive relationship with my grandfather before they divorced years ago before. I wasn't there. It was with my mother. So I can relate. It hits pretty close to home,” said Cross.

Cross wants to help victims on the front end as a state trooper. Blythe shares his passion.

"I have some aunts who have gone through a couple things. I think that's kind of what I thought of when I was doing Amber Camp's character,” said Blythe. "I didn't think that was going to happen. It puts it into perspective that you really don't know how dating violence is going to affect someone's life."

If you or someone you know is involving in an unhealthy relationship, you can reach out to the Hays-Caldwell Women's Center by dialing 512-396-4357.
 

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