A (Mock) Court in Pittsburgh Just Put Luke Skywalker on Trial for Murder

Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved
Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved

A court in Pittsburgh has acquitted Luke Skywalker of 5999 murder charges for causing the destruction of the Death Star.

The trial put the two highest-ranking rulers of the Galactic Empire, Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, on the witness stand, along with the top leaders of the Rebel Alliance—Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Skywalker himself—to recount the events leading up to the explosion of the Galactic Empire star base.

While Skywalker (attorney Matthew Feinman) and his counsel did not deny the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s charge that “on or about May 25, 1977,” the Jedi fired a proton torpedo at a design flaw in the industrial celestial object, leading to its complete destruction and the deaths of most crew members, Skywalker claimed the action was justified, given the Death Star’s recent use as a weapon of planetary destruction.

“I destroyed it because the Empire was posing a threat to the entire Rebel Alliance and the galaxy as a whole,” Skywalker, waiving his Fifth Amendment right, told the courtroom. “The Death Star could destroy an entire planet. If I didn’t destroy it, millions or even billions of lives could have been lost. The dark forces have no regard for human life and would destroy everything in their path.”

Photo courtesy of Mark Hensler

The jury believed it. Said jury was a made up of Pittsburgh-area grade-schoolers, many of whom were wearing Star Wars T-shirts for the occasion, so it was arguably a tainted jury pool. Still, the Tatooine farmhand-turned-political radical left the courtroom as free as an unsaddled Bantha.

The “trial,” which took place on April 13, 2019 at Dormont Public Library, was one in a series of the Allegheny County Bar Association’s annual “Fairy Tale Mock Trials,” meant to give kids an introduction to the legal system, via material they know, and also allow local lawyers to show off their cosplay skills. (Last year, the Bar Association tried Harry Potter for the death of Professor Quirrell. The kids let The Boy Who Lived walk, too.)

“When they deliberate, they can be so thoughtful that I think a few of them could become interested in law,” attorney Catherine S. Loeffler, one of the event's organizers, said.

The prosecution’s key witnesses emphasized the loss of life on the Death Star and in what Emperor Palpatine (attorney Casey Rankin, who specialized in toxic tort defense) characterized as an “unprovoked attack.”

“Without warning or provocation, Luke Skywalker and members of the Rebel Alliance attacked us and the Battle of Yavin ensued,” Palpatine/Rankin hissed. “Our men fought valiantly but they were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the Rebel Alliance.”

Under questioning from “prosecutor” John Ogden, Palpatine put the cost of the destroyed property at “a gazillion galactic credits.”

“It sounds like you have a civil suit on your hands,” Ogden retorted.

“The Empire has much to settle,” the hooded galactic overlord agreed.

Photo courtesy of Mark Hensler

Darth Vader (attorney Stephen Elek) recounted the crack to his imposing sense of calm and control on day of the alleged crime. “I looked out the window and I saw the entire Rebel Alliance armada,” he said. “There must have been over 200 ships right outside the Death Star.”

However, Vader and Palpatine proved to be unsympathetic witnesses when, under questioning from Skywalker’s attorney, Brian Shepard, both admitted to using the Death Star in planet-wide massacres.

When Shepard asked if the Empire’s agenda consisted of "blowing up their planets, destroying cities, and killing thousands of people,” Vader angrily retorted: “Yes, but it was a greater purpose yooouuu wouldn’t understand.”

The testimony of Storm Trooper Number 12 (University of Pittsburgh postdoctoral associate Wynn Meyer) may have struck a few heartstrings. “They surrounded us from all sides with a strategically coordinated attack,” the servant of the Empire, who testified in uniform, said. “It was clear they had been planning this for a while, definitely premeditated. They were heavily armed and many of my best men were killed before my very eyes.” She admitted that as the rebels advanced, “it was hard to hit anyone.”

The defense’s strategy hit a snag when key witness Han Solo (attorney Adam Rosenthal) was offended that defense attorney Ogden had not heard of his smuggling vessel. “You haven’t heard of the Millennium Falcon?” Solo asked, perplexed, when Ogden asked him to describe the ship that took part in the attack. “That’s the ship that did the Kessel Run in [less than] 12 parsecs.”

Judge Amanda Kraft (a business attorney by day) interrupted proceedings to halt the cross-talk about the Millennium Falcon.

Photo courtesy of Mark Hensler

The defense’s final witness, Princess Leia (attorney Lea Lach), returned to a point of moral clarity by mournfully describing the destruction of her home planet, Alderaan, via the Death Star.

“By destroying the Death Star, we saved lives,” her highness said. “Darth Vader and the Empire should be on trial. My home planet was a peaceful place with no places or military bases. They killed millions of people and we killed 5999 to stop them from killing millions more. This trial is an outrage. It’s unfortunate those lives were lost, but we were doing it for the greater good.”

After deliberating with a court officer, the 3-foot-tall jury spokesman agreed. “We find Luke Skywalker innocent and think Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader should be on trial.”

Somehow, Skywalker and his defense team managed to turn the prosecution’s star witnesses into the defendants—a Jedi mind trick if there ever was one.

10 Killer Gifts for True Crime Fans

Ulysses Press/Little A
Ulysses Press/Little A

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Humans have a strange and lasting fascination with the dark and macabre. We’re hooked on stories about crime and murder, and if you know one of those obsessives who eagerly binges every true crime documentary and podcast that crosses their path, you’re in luck—we’ve compiled a list of gifts that will appeal to any murder mystery lover.

1. Donner Dinner Party: A Rowdy Game of Frontier Cannibalism!; $15

Chronicle Books/Amazon

The infamous story of the Donner party gets a new twist in this social deduction party game that challenges players to survive and eliminate the cannibals hiding within their group of friends. It’s “lots of fun accusing your friends of eating human flesh and poisoning your food,” one reviewer says.

Buy it: Amazon

2. A Year of True Crime Page-a-Day Calendar; $16

Workman Calendars/Amazon

With this page-a-day calendar, every morning is an opportunity to build your loved one's true crime chops. Feed their morbid curiosity by reading about unsolved cases and horrifying killers while testing their knowledge with the occasional quizzes sprinkled throughout the 313-page calendar (weekends are combined onto one page).

Buy it: Amazon

3. Bloody America: The Serial Killers Coloring Book; $10

Kolme Korkeudet Oy/Amazon

Some people use coloring books to relax, while others use them to dive into the grisly murders of American serial killers. Just make sure to also gift some red colored pencils before you wrap this up for your bestie.

Buy it: Amazon

4. The Serial Killer Cookbook: True Crime Trivia and Disturbingly Delicious Last Meals from Death Row's Most Infamous Killers and Murderers; $15

Ulysses Press/Amazon

This macabre cookbook contains recipes for the last meals of some of the world’s most famous serial killers, including Ted Bundy, Aileen Wuornos, and John Wayne Gacy. This cookbook covers everything from breakfast (seared steak with eggs and toast, courtesy of Ted Bundy) to dessert (chocolate cake, the last request of Bobby Wayne Woods). Each recipe includes a short description of the killer who requested the meal.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Ripped from the Headlines!: The Shocking True Stories Behind the Movies’ Most Memorable Crimes; $15

Little A/Amazon

In this book, true crime historian Harold Schechter sorts out the truth and fiction that inspired some of Hollywood’s best-known murder movies—including Psycho (1960), Scream (1996), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), and The Hills Have Eyes (1977). As Schechter makes clear, sometimes reality is even a little more sick and twisted than the movies show.

Buy it: Amazon

6. The Deadbolt Mystery Society Monthly Box; $22/month

CrateJoy

Give the murder mystery lover in your life the opportunity to solve a brand-new case every single month. Each box includes the documents and files for a standalone mystery story that can be solved alone or with up to three friends. To crack the case, you’ll also need a laptop, tablet, or smartphone connected to the internet—each mystery includes interactive content that requires scanning QR codes or watching videos.

Buy it: Cratejoy

7. In Cold Blood; $10

Vintage/Amazon

Truman Capote’s 1965 classic about the murder of a Kansas family is considered by many to be the first true-crime nonfiction novel ever published. Capote’s book—still compulsively readable despite being written more than 50 years ago—follows the mysterious case from beginning to end, helping readers understand the perspectives of the victims, investigators, and suspects in equal time.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide; $13

Forge Books/Amazon

Any avid true crime fan has at least heard of My Favorite Murder, the popular podcast that premiered in 2016. This book is a combination of practical wisdom, true crime tales, and personal stories from the podcast’s comedic hosts. Reviewers say it’s “poignant” and “worth every penny.”

Buy it: Amazon

9. I Like to Party Mug; $12

LookHUMAN/Amazon

This cheeky coffee mug says it all. Plus, it’s both dishwasher- and microwave-safe, making it a sturdy gift for the true crime lover in your life.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Latent Fingerprint Kit; $60

Crime Scene Store/Amazon

Try your hand (get it?!) at being an amateur detective with this kit that lets you collect fingerprints left on most surfaces. It may not be glamorous, but it could help you solve the mystery of who put that practically empty carton back in the refrigerator when it barely contained enough milk for a cup of coffee.

Buy it: Amazon

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Celebrate Season 2 of The Mandalorian With These 10 Products

LEGO/Amazon
LEGO/Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

The second season of The Mandalorian is here, and that means a tidal wave of new merchandise is already on store shelves for eager fans to devour. And, of course, when we're talking about Mandalorian merch, we're really talking about anything with Baby Yoda's face printed onto it. And there's plenty of that available for the series' sophomore season on Disney+, whether you want to invest hours in a new LEGO set or just want to kick back and have a drink out of a Baby Yoda-shaped tiki mug. Check out some of our favorite products below.

1. Star Wars: The Mandalorian Polaroid Camera; $140

Polaroid/Amazon

Polaroid cameras are as classic as Star Wars itself, so this collaboration feels natural. The instant camera has The Mandalorian logo etched onto it, and the unique i-Type film prints photos with little Baby Yoda illustrations decorating the borders.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Amazon 3rd Generation Echo Dot The Child Stand; $25

Otterbox/Amazon

Amazon Echo Dots have become so popular, it seems most homes have a couple lying around. With this Baby Yoda stand, you can make sure you'll always know which one is yours. The iconically elongated ears will brighten up any Star Wars fan’s room and get them ready for the new season of the show.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Star Wars: The Mandalorian Marshmallow Cereal; $11

General Mills/Amazon

It feels like cereal hasn’t changed too much over the past couple of years, which is why this Mandalorian cereal is a real treat. It's not just that Baby Yoda's grinning on the box; the cereal itself also has marshmallow pieces shaped like the character.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Baby Yoda Socks; $11

Disney

Even your feet can join in on the Mandalorian hype with this set of Baby Yoda socks from Disney.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Stanley Mandalorian Insulated Mugs; $30-$35

Stanley/Amazon

The famous thermos mug brand, Stanley, has teamed up with Disney to create three exclusive bottles featuring imagery from The Mandalorian. The models include a vacuum bottle with The Mandalorian logo, a trigger-action mug showcasing The Child, and an insulated tumbler with Mando's helmet on it. And since these are from Stanley, you know your drinks will be kept at just the right temperature for up to 24 hours.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Mandalorian-Themed Monopoly; $30

Hasbro

The world of intergalactic bounty hunting makes a seamless transition into Hasbro’s classic game of property management and armchair capitalism in this special edition of Monopoly. Here, staples like Park Place and Baltic Avenue are replaced by the Armorer’s Workshop and a Jawa Camp, with boot and thimble tokens making way for Mando, Baby Yoda, and Moff Gideon pieces.

Buy it: Amazon

7. LEGO Razor Crest Ship; $130

LEGO/Amazon

Mando’s bulky star cruiser is one of the most memorable additions to the Star Wars ship library since the Disney acquisition. This 1023-piece LEGO set allows you to recreate the vessel brick by brick. The Razor Crest set even opens up to reveal a cargo hold, cockpit, and an escape pod—which are all the perfect size to fit the minifigures of Mando, Greef Karga, and Baby Yoda that come along with it.

Buy it: Amazon

8. 10-Inch Chrome Mandalorian Funko Pop!; $40

Funko/Amazon

If any duo deserved an extra-large Funko Pop!, it’s this one. Here, the Mandalorian, real name Din Djarin, is decked out in a special chrome helmet variant meant to resemble his fancy beskar armor. In his clutches is Baby Yoda, and the pair strikes a pose that's perfect for displaying on a desk or bookshelf.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baby Yoda Tiki Mug; $27

Geeki Tiki/Toynk

This tiki mug is firmly in the “at this point, why not?” category of Baby Yoda merchandise. At 16 ounces, it’s an adorable vessel for your favorite island drink, ensuring that even your beverages are on brand while you binge the latest season of The Mandalorian.

Buy it: Toynk

10. Baby Yoda 39-Inch Area Rug; $50

Robe Factory LLC/Amazon

For floors that have a distinct lack of Baby Yoda, this 39-inch area rug sports a vivid illustration of everyone’s favorite pint-sized Force wielder sitting in his adorable floating bassinet. Made of 100 percent polyester, this rug would be right at home in your bathroom, kitchen, or bedroom.

Buy it: Toynk

Related: 11 Great Gifts for Star Wars Fans

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