CLEARWATER — Once upon a time in Pinellas County, a girl named Gold E. Locks was picking flowers when she smelled something scrumptious.
She followed the aroma all the way to a house. The front door was unlocked, so Gold E. Locks slipped inside and ate a bowl of porridge. Full from her meal, she accidentally fell asleep.
"The next thing I remember is waking up and the bears were all standing around me," she told a jury of third-graders during her trial Friday morning. "I ran out of the house."
With little deliberation, the students found Gold E. Locks guilty of illegally entering the Three Bears' home. She was handcuffed and escorted out of the Old Clearwater Courthouse.
Staci Chisholm, representing the Bear family, walked the jury through the scene of the crime. Gold E. Locks entered without permission. Besides eating the porridge, she also shattered Babe E. Bear's chair.
The Bears all took the stand and retold their surprise to find their door wide open. Mom A. Bear said she made the "wholesome, nutritious breakfast" for her family — not the defendant.
Locks' attorney, David Ellis, called the charges "ridiculous."
"She thought that she was invited," he said. "She certainly did not mean to hurt the bears."
As for the shattered chair, Ellis deflected blame to the youngest bear. "I think Babe E. Bear broke the chair. I think maybe that's what happened here."
Pinellas County Judge Myriam Irizarry instructed the squirming jury of dozens of students to raise their hands if they believed Gold E. Locks was guilty. The vast majority of small hands shot up.
Irizarry asked the students what they thought was a fair punishment. After one suggested jail, the judge sentenced Gold E. Locks to 10 years.
Her lawyer plans to appeal.
Contact Laura C. Morel at [email protected]