Civil Rights

Bell Gets 18 Months in Jena 6 Plea Deal


One of the Jena 6 defendants has agreed to a plea deal in juvenile court that apparently will require him to serve little additional time, after spending much of 2007 in jail.

A conspiracy charge has been dropped and Mychal Bell, 17, will plead guilty to a second-degree battery count, in a plea deal approved today by a Louisiana judge, reports the Chicago Tribune. The former high school football star will be sentenced to 18 months, with credit for time served.

The plea deal was approved today by District Judge J.P. Mauffray, almost exactly one year after the Dec. 4, 2006, attack. Bell with serve the time concurrently with another 18-month juvenile sentence that Bell received from Mauffray in October for four prior juvenile battery and destruction of property sentences. His attorneys say he may be out of jail by June.

Plea negotiations are now ongoing concerning other five Jena 6 defendants, the newspaper reports.

“This case has been a very difficult chapter in the town’s life and for the individuals involved,” says David Utter, an attorney for another Jena 6 juvenile defendant. “My sense is that the district attorney would like to close this chapter now.”

As discussed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post, the case has attracted tremendous public attention and resulted in massive civil rights marches. That is because of a perception on the part of many onlookers that Bell and his co-defendants, who are black, have been more harshly treated than white students at their high school in Jena, La., concerning racially tinged incidents.

The Jena 6 were charged in an alleged attack on a fellow student, who is white.

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