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Emmett Till trial set for today

Courtesy of Jose Romo

Madera Superior Court Judge Ernie LiCalsi, left, and Madera County Sheriff Tyson Pogue prepare to officiate in the trial of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant (deceased), charged with the murder of Emmett Till. The pair are being prosecuted in absentia by eighth grade history students from Eastin Arcola and La Vina Schools.


LiCalsi to preside; Pogue appointed bailiff

Another attempt to achieve justice in the case of the murder of Emmett Till will be made today in the courtroom of the Madera County Courthouse museum.

The eighth grade history classes of Eastin-Arcola and La Vina Schools will prosecute Roy Bryant and J.W. Bryant for the killing. Both men were tried for the murder in 1955 but were found, “not guilty.”

The Hon. Ernest J. LiCalsi, presiding judge of the Madera Superior Court, will hear the case and Madera County Sheriff Tyson Pogue will serve the court as bailiff. Hassani Heard will head up the prosecution team from La Vina, and Sarah Guglielmana has been named the lead Eastin-Arcola prosecutor.

Prosecutors Nicole Cuadras, Junior Diaz, Oliver Buchanan, Alvaro Ruiz, Gueorgina Bojorquez, Angel Paramo, Chris Tornero, Kevin Camarillo-Chavez, Quinten Priessman, and Sarah Guglielmana will present evidence to the jurors.

The students began the Emmett Till project by focusing on the evolution of “Jim Crow.” This brought them face to face with violent expressions of racism and the murder of Till.

The students were stunned by this heinous crime and shocked by the fact that the two grown, white men who tortured and murdered 14-year-old Emmett were tried and found “Not Guilty. They decided to correct this historical injustice by putting Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, the killers (now deceased), on trial in the Courthouse Museum. It was determined that students would prosecute the case.

The student research began with newspaper articles and old Youtube interviews with some of Till’s relatives. These sources were buttressed with the discovery of a rare document, which shed considerable light on the Emmett Till case. It was the transcript of the following trial: STATE OF MISSISSIPPI VS. J. W. MILAM and ROY BRYANT. This account of the court proceedings included testimony from every person who had been even remotely connected with the case, except for the two defendants.

In Wednesday’s proceedings, student prosecutor Alex Prim will illustrate the case with enlarged photographs of those who were involved, including Bryant, Milam, the all-white, all-male jury, and the segregationist sheriff who testified for the defense.

The trial will begin at 10:00 a.m. and is open to the public.


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