Mychal Bell, one of six Black teenagers from Jena, Louisiana, arrested for allegedly beating a White classmate, struck a plea deal with prosecutors on Monday, according to the Associated Press. The only one of the Jena Six teens who is still in jail, Bell pleaded guilty to a juvenile battery charge, agreeing to an 18-month sentence in a juvenile facility. He was granted credit for 10 months he has already served.
Before the plea deal, Bell, 17, stood to be placed in a juvenile facility until his 21st birthday. Although Bell now has eight months left to serve for the beating, which occurred in December 2006, he is currently serving a separate 18-month sentence for violating probation on a previous unrelated juvenile charge. He has already served two months for that conviction. Bell will serve both sentences at the same time, for a total of 16 months.
Bell, along with the rest of the Jena Six, was originally charged with attempted murder and conspiracy for the beating, which reportedly occurred after nooses were hung from a tree at their high school. The victim was reportedly discharged from the hospital after several hours and attended a school event the night after the attack.
In June Bell was convicted in adult court on reduced charges of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy, triggering a massive civil rights protest in Jena with thousands who believed the punishment to be excessive for a school fight. Days after the march, an appeals court overturned the conviction, arguing that Bell, who was 16 at the time of the attack, should be tried as a juvenile.
According to AP, Bell must also pay court costs plus $935 to the family of the beating victim, testify if the other five teens stand trial, receive counseling and re-enter the school system. LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters said he would try to arrange plea deals with the other students, whose felony charges are still pending.
Credit: AP Photo/W. A. Harewood