Saturday, June 27, 2009

Jena 6 Articles: Case Wrapped Up With Misdemeanor Pleas

Jena 6 case wrapped up

6/26/2009 3:05 PM ET

JENA, La. (AP) — Five members of the Jena Six have pleaded "no contest" to misdemeanor simple battery and were sentenced to seven days probation and fined $500 plus court costs.

It was a far less severe end to their cases than seemed possible when the six students were initially charged with attempted murder in the 2006 attack on Justin Barker and became known as the "Jena Six," after the central Louisiana town where the beating took place.

Later, charges against Carwin Jones, Jesse Ray Beard, Robert Bailey Jr., Bryant Purvis and Theo Shaw were reduced to aggravated second-degree battery. The only member of the group to serve jail time was Mychal Bell, who pleaded guilty in December 2007 to second-degree battery and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

Friday's criminal proceedings were to be followed by a civil hearing to settle the lawsuit by Barker against the group.


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Five of six black teens accused of beating a white high school classmate in a case that led to the biggest civil rights protest in decades will plead guilty in a deal expected to be finalized this week, Louisiana court officials involved with the case told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The six students were initially charged with attempted murder in the 2006 attack on Justin Barker and became known as the "Jena Six," after the town where the beating took place.

Charges against Carwin Jones, Jesse Ray Beard, Robert Bailey Jr., Bryant Purvis and Theo Shaw were reduced to aggravated second-degree battery.

Court officials, who asked not to be identified because the agreement was not yet public, told the AP that those five will plead to lesser charges Friday but would not be specific. Officials also would not talk about penalties.

A sixth defendant, Mychal Bell, pleaded guilty in December 2007 to a misdemeanor second-degree battery charge and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

Bill Furlow, a spokesman for LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters, confirmed the hearing for the remaining five defendants, but said Walters would have no comment.

Bailey's attorney, James Boren, wouldn't confirm the deal but said, "you certainly want to be in court on Friday."

The severity of the original charges brought widespread criticism and eventually led more than 20,000 people to converge in September 2007 on the tiny central Louisiana town of Jena for a major civil rights march.

Racial tensions at Jena High School reportedly grew throughout in the months before the attack. Several months before attack, nooses were hung in a tree on the campus, sparking outrage in the black community. Residents said there were fights, but nothing too serious until December 2006 when Barker was attacked.

Barker was knocked unconscious as the lunch period was ending. He was hit and kicked by the defendants as he lay on the ground, according to court testimony. Pictures from the emergency room show his face was swollen and bloodied, but he was not admitted and was able to attend a school function that same night.

Barker graduated that spring and is now working on an oil rig, according to Henry Lemoine Jr., the attorney representing Barker in the civil cases.

Bell graduated in May and is currently trying to find a college where he could play football, according to his attorney Louis Scott. Bell was considered a top football prospect before the attack and Scott said he was being widely recruited.

Meanwhile, Lemoine said Barker's family agreed on a settlement Wednesday with Bailey, Shaw and Jones.

His family filed a lawsuit in state court against the LaSalle Parish School Board, the parents of the young men accused of beating him and the adult defendants.

"It's not much, but the Barkers are satisfied," Lemoine said. "They believe it's time to put this to bed."

The agreement, according to Lemoine, also provides for Barker to receive the royalties from any account of the incident by any of the defendants.

"If they get funds from any source for anything about the incident within the next five years, we get them," Lemoine said.

The school board has not agreed on a financial settlement, Lemoine said.
April, 2009

VOICES: Surviving Jena Six: The dreams of Mychal Bell

My name is Mychal Bell and I was one of the Jena Six that was charged with attempted murder down in Jena, Louisiana in 2006. As of now, seeing that we have a black president, and with the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. tomorrow, I wanted to share with you my dream like Dr. King shared his dream with everybody. I even had the chance, although I was in shackles and handcuffs, to meet Martin Luther King III, when he came to visit me in prison. So, I feel like I have a connection to the King family.

When I look back at the day that I got in a fight with Justin Barker at my high school, I now realize that I should have done what Dr. King preached, which was non-violence. A few months before the fight, I remember seeing nooses hung from a tree at my school, and none of the few black students knew who was responsible. But, what came to my mind was images of Mississippi burning, seeing how black people were hung and killed, and it felt very disrespectful. In the small town that I grew up in, I had always felt that black people and white people didn't get along. After all, this was Louisiana.

When I first entered prison, I was young, only 16, and I had been charged as an adult with attempted murder for the fight. The kids who put up the noose...nothing happened to them. Being in prison, I could only see my parents once a week and it was really hard to get by.

But, being in prison, it helped me become a better man in life and become stronger and realize my dreams. I spent over a year in prison, before I took a plea bargain in juvenile court for a simple battery charge and was given time served and sent home. Since that time, my life hasn't been easy...a lot of people talk bad about me and the media has portrayed me as someone who I am not...I know the truth about who I am and I know I am not a bad person.

The media pushed me to a point where I tried to kill myself, which I didn't want to do, but that incident has made me a stronger person, and now I can finally see my dream in front of me. On May 13th I will graduate from high school and in the fall I will attend a four-year university on a football scholarship. As me being a young black man I know that Dr. King died for me, so I can be in the position that I am, to become anything I want in life.

-Mychal Bell


Mychal Bell Says Suicide Attempt Was Due To Being Distraught Over New Charges

Bell talked to CNN about his suicide attempt. I may try to get in contact with his lawyer early next week to see what he says about it, since he granted me an interview before.

Mychal Bell suicide attempt

MONROE, Louisiana (CNN) -- Mychal Bell says he felt pressure to be perfect after his part of 2006's "Jena 6" assault case was over. When police alleged last month that he wasn't, the Louisiana teen took his Christmas money and sought a gun to kill himself.

Distraught after being arrested on suspicion of shoplifting and battery, the 18-year-old Bell says, he pointed the gun at his head and pulled the trigger.

The gun misfired, and he aimed at his chest and tried again. The bullet ripped through his body, and he fell to the floor of his grandmother's home in Monroe on December 29.

"It just got to the point where I just couldn't take it anymore," Bell, who is recovering from the wound, said in an interview with CNN...

"I just wanted to show everybody that I really wasn't the type of kid that everybody was making me out to be," said Bell, who worked out with his school's team even though he couldn't play in games. "Nobody will ever be perfect, but it's like that's where my mind was. You need to be perfect."

Bell said he felt people were constantly watching him, hoping he'd fail: " 'Just mess up, just mess up.' There was a lot of pressure on me..."

In his CNN interview in Monroe, Bell -- who is back in school despite being in pain from his wound and subsequent surgery -- didn't comment on the shoplifting allegations because the case is pending.

But he said he "cried every day" after the arrest and "could never get back right."

I personally think we have someone here who is somewhat criminally inclined, attracted to bad boy behavior; and yet though has tried to do better and often times succeeds, he retreats back into familiar territory impulsively.

But witnessing his farther's foul, abbrassive, reckless, and dishonest behavior the last year and a half; I again say he didn't have much of chance to start with. Hopefully he starts to take responsibility to rise above what he comes from to be a better man. He's grown now, it's on him. Talk about a guy running out of second chances.

1 comment:

agrotosh said...

Hello, We are organising a protest against Vedanta- an aluminium mining giant, with disastrous consequences on the lives of locals and the environment in Eastern India. I read your article on the situation in Guinea. It would be great if we got in touch, shared our knowledge on these issues and worked together against these bauxite mining monsters. I'm also aware of some ongoing efforts to launch a joint legal suit against aluminium mining multinationals in western australia and india. Maybe we could link in Guinea as well. My email is Looking forward to your reply.