Charges against Mychal Bell overturned in Jena 6 case


Hat Tip: Janet McConnaughey, Associated Press, USA Today 

NEW ORLEANS — A state appeals court on Friday threw out the only remaining conviction against one of the black teenagers accused in the beating of a white schoolmate in the racially tense north Louisiana town of Jena.

Mychal Bell, 17, should not have been tried as an adult, the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal said in tossing his conviction on aggravated battery, for which he was to have been sentenced Thursday. He could have gotten 15 years in prison.

His conspiracy conviction in the December beating of student Justin Barker was already thrown out by another court.

Bell, who was 16 at the time of the beating, and four others were originally charged with attempted second-degree murder. Those charges brought widespread criticism that blacks were being treated more harshly than whites after racial confrontations and fights at Jena High School.

Bell’s attorney Louis Scott said he didn’t know whether his client, whose bond was set at $90,000, would get out of jail immediately.

“We don’t know what approach the prosecution is going to take — whether they will re-charge him, where he would have to be subjected to bail all over again or not,” Scott said.

Civil rights leaders, including the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, had been planning a rally in support of the teens for the day Bell was to have been sentenced.

“Although there will not be a court hearing, we still intend to have a major rally for the Jena Six and now hopefully Mychal Bell will join us,” Sharpton said in an e-mailed statement.

Said Jackson: “The pressure must continue until all six boys are set free and sent to school, not to jail.”

Jena, La., is a mostly white town where racial animosity flared about a year ago when a black student sat under a tree that was a traditional gathering place for whites. A day later, three nooses were found hanging from the tree. There followed reports of racial fights at the school, culminating in the December attack on Barker.

The reversal of Bell’s conviction will not affect four other teenagers also charged as adults, because they were 17 years old at the time of the fight and no longer considered juveniles, said attorney George Tucker of Hammond.

Prosecutors have the option of appealing to the state Supreme Court. District Attorney Reed Walters did not return a call Friday.

Judge J.P. Mauffray had thrown out Bell’s conspiracy conviction, saying it was not a charge on which a juvenile may be tried as an adult. But he had let the battery conviction stand, saying Bell could be tried in adult court because the charge was among lesser charges included in the original attempted murder charge.

Teenagers can be tried as adults in Louisiana for some violent crimes, including attempted murder, but aggravated battery is not one of those crimes, the court said.

Defense lawyers had argued that the aggravated battery case should not have been tried in adult court once the attempted murder charge was reduced.

The case “remains exclusively in juvenile court,” the Third Circuit ruled.

20 thoughts on “Charges against Mychal Bell overturned in Jena 6 case

  1. Bruce

    I am happy about Mychal Bell. And I am sure all the others will be reduced to simple battery.

    But after all this happens. I can see the civil suits from the white boys parents.

    The justice system is not consistant. But Al Sharpton doesn’t help things at all.

  2. This is definitely good news. But, I have to admit that is quite sad when the just thing is good news. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the just thing was a given? Yes, my idealism. Nowadays, it seems like we need to take every little bit as a victory.

    and P.S. Your blog=Awesome, keep it up 🙂


  3. I think the whole Jena issue is a taste of the criminal justice system and explains, at least to some extent, why the jails are teaming with young black men.

    On the other hand, with the entire furor, I hope the opportunity is not missed to let these young men and other young people of color know that “Two wrongs do not make a right.”
    Yes, they were angered by the racial harassment by the white students as anyone would expect them to be, but fighting IS/WAS not the solution and has led to further complexity and caused even greater problems for them.

  4. The Ravage Beast


    You hit the nail on the head. When I “complained” to some cousins at work that I did not fully agree with the “Free The Jena 6” slogan, I was called a self-hater. (Actually, 1 or 2 people out here called me that as well before…). I think we allow our emotional side to guide us too often, and media pimps like Jesse and Al just add fuel to the fire. Al and Jesse helped bring a national spotlight on Jena and the imbalances of our justice system, but they could have phrased the message differently.

    What I want to see in our message vs. “Free Jena 6”:
    – Mr. Bell’s convictions overturned on legal grounds, namely that he did not receive a fair trial, had bad legal representation, and should have been tried as a juvenile.
    – All the defendants be tried as juveniles.
    – They move the trials to another county.
    – The state or Feds investigate why no white students or adults were arrested or charged with any crimes. In fact, this should be close to the top of Jesse’s agenda. If we’re going to call them out, let’s prove it so the world can see. Nothing works better than an open casket, Emmitt Till style.

    The six boys committed a crime – why they did it and whether it was justified is up to a fair juvenile court to decide.

    Jury nullification will probably set them free.

  5. Maquita

    The Jena 6 entire situation saddens me. I will keep the Jena 6 in my prayers. I will make a donation to support these young men. I will wear my black on Thursday, September 20th, 2007. The situation saddens me and the struggles for equality still exist. In order to strive forward we must continue to fight. There is a great deal of attention that now exist as a result of these young gentlemen suffers. I wish it could of been sooner, nonetheless I just hope that these young men will be able to recover from this awful situation. We as humans help one another. The more hands we have the more productive we are able to be. I know these young men will gain the freedom they deserve. However, I hope all those responsible for the careless errors will be terminated from there positions. But, first and foremost justice will be served. God Please Bless the Jena 6 and bring them home soon.

  6. Soledad

    Black Rappers, Black Actors, Black Talk Show Host and Black Pastors I ask you why are these boys still in jail? Donate some of them Millions that us Black Folk make you and post bail for these boys, get them a Real Attorney, along with an private investigator.

    Real Talk…

  7. selisha gressett

    hey i wanna say im a white (fem) 15 years old and i wanna say to all those white boy and the rest of the white people who think there runnin somthing they need to think again!! because the racism stuff thats going through their heads is nothin but the devils work but, im sying the devil is a lie and we were all made in gods image and for stupid people to think their better than anyone else should be shot!!

  8. Natalie

    Ok this is crazy
    those boys did not deserve to be in anyone’s jail maybe suspended from school, punished by their parents but not joil. People especially children get into fights all the time and get jumped just as much however because these boys are in a town that don’t cater to diversity they get harsh treatment
    I think not. If they have to stand trial then everyone involved needs to stand trial just the same
    why them and not the others

  9. bizzy

    The 15 year old had a history of violent convictions – 3-5 convictions for violent felonies and parole violations. that has nothing to do with race and is why he was facing 15+ years.
    what a double standard i think the charges should be upgraded as a hate crime because if 6 white kids beat up 1 black kid sharpton and jackson would demand it

  10. Gary

    What a joke if the tables were tured you would want the 6 white boys carged with a hate crime on a black man.
    A crime is a crime do the time.

  11. Adam

    Let’s talk about the “white tree”. Sense when did a group of people sitting under a tree every day become a racist spot, because they happened to be white? They wanted to steal these white kids spot, plain and simple. It had nothing to do with it being a white spot. Why should you be able to take my seat because you are black?
    These black students have a history of violent crimes. They attacked a child and beat him after he was unconscious because of the color of his skin. It is a hate crime and he should go to jail for atleast 15 years.

  12. please

    what do you think of this


    ALEXANDRIA, Louisiana (CNN) — Authorities in Alexandria, Louisiana, arrested two people after nooses were seen hanging from the back of a red pickup Thursday night, the city’s mayor told CNN.

    I believe that we’ve confirmed at least one minor” and one adult were arrested, Mayor Jacques Roy said.

    The photograph was sent to CNN by Petty Officer 2nd Class Casanova Love, 26, of the U.S. Navy who is stationed in Hawaii. He’s visiting his family in Alexandria.

    Love said he was standing outside a club with some friends Thursday night when he saw a red pickup drive by slowly with two nooses hanging from it.

    Read more:

  13. toni goode

    they know that fight was nothing more than a couple of kids fighting a school and would had been blowed away in about a week or two . keep your head up and i’ll keep you in my prays.

  14. god help us

    I am so sick of hearing about this now. Colors, blacks oh wait now its African-Americans… you were born here you are AMERICAN>>> AL sharpton and Jesse Jackson will do anything to have their names and faces in the news… do these kids even know that those two men I mentioned only care about themselves and what it can do for them. The people who were involved in this HATE CRIME should have jail time even more so since they have priors. I didn’t know to have a fair justice system you have to free convicted fellons. All the people that are supporting the release of these students need to grow up and enter the real world!!!!!

  15. jeff shallcross

    hey sharpton, what have u done for the recovery of the white boy? gee isnt it to bad some ppl were charged i dont think so. if the white boy was my son i would do everything in my power to make sure those responsible went to jail for as long as possible.

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