A judge denied bail Friday for a black teenager accused of beating a white classmate in a racially polarizing case that drew thousands of protesters to a tiny Louisiana town. Attorneys would not comment because the case has been moved to juvenile court, where the proceedings are secret. But a relative of another member of the “Jena Six” told The Associated Press that bail had been denied for Mychal Bell, now 17.
Bell’s mother, Melissa Bell, left the courthouse in tears. She did not speak to reporters. Bell is one of six teens accused of beating Justin Barker unconscious in a December 2006 attack on the grounds of the high school in Jena, La. Racial tensions had been inflamed earlier when three white teens hung three nooses from a schoolyard tree. Bell, the only one of the six beating defendants whose case has gone to trial, was charged as an adult and found guilty of aggravated second-degree battery.
His conviction was thrown out last week by a state appeals court that said Bell, who was 16 at the time of the beating, could not be tried as an adult. The prosecutor continued to oppose bail for Bell, although the other five defendants have all been released on bail.
Thousands of demonstrators, including the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King III, descended Thursday on Jena. They contend Bell would not have been treated so harshly if he were white instead of black.
Source: The New York Daily News