Jena 6's Bell to be tried as juvenile

Sept. 26, 2007 at 9:39 PM
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BATON ROUGE, La., Sept. 26 (UPI) -- Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Wednesday Jena 6 defendant Mychal Bell will be tried as a juvenile.

The 17-year-old and five other black youths are accused of beating Justin Barker, a white classmate in Jena, La. The aggressive prosecution of the black students, who now face attempted battery and conspiracy charges after initially being charged with attempted murder, prompted a rally by about 15,000 people last week.

Blanco said she went over Bell's case with LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters, who agreed not to challenge a state appellate court's decision to toss out adult battery and conspiracy convictions against Bell, who remains jailed, CNN reported. Civil rights leaders Martin Luther King III and the Rev. Al Sharpton were with Blanco when she made the announcement in Baton Rouge, La., the network said.

The beating followed fights between white and black students after three whites hung nooses from a tree on high school property. The tree was a popular gathering spot for white students and the noose incident occurred after black students congregated under it.

Meanwhile, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, will hold hearings on the matter next month in Washington, USA Today said.

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