‘Jena 6’ teen’s case to be heard in juvenile court, governor says

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (CNN) — The case of Mychal Bell, a black teenager accused of beating a white classmate in Jena, Louisiana, will be heard in juvenile court, Louisiana’s governor announced Wednesday.

Mychal Bell, 17, is accused with five others of beating Justin Barker in a school fight.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco said that she discussed Bell’s case with LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters on Wednesday, and that Walters agreed not to challenge a state appeals court ruling that dismissed Bell’s battery and conspiracy convictions.

The court ruled that Bell, who was 16 at the time of the beating, should have been tried in juvenile court instead of having the case transferred to adult court.

Blanco made the announcement with civil rights leaders Martin Luther King III and Al Sharpton.

Last week, they led about 15,000 marchers to Jena, a town of 3,000, to protest how authorities handled the cases of Bell and five other black teens accused of beating white high school student Justin Barker.

Many said they are angry the students, dubbed the “Jena 6,” are being treated more harshly than three white students who hung nooses from an oak tree on high school property.

The white students were suspended from school but did not face criminal charges. The protesters say they should have been charged with a hate crime.

Prosecutors originally charged all six black students with second-degree attempted murder and conspiracy

The black students now face charges of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy in the schoolyard beating.

The altercation was the culmination of racially tense events in the town, including two fights sparked by the hanging of the nooses.

CNN’s Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

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