Jena’s Bell Faces Hurdles to Freedom

Jena’s Bell Faces Hurdles to Freedom

Published February 11, 2008

Posted Sept. 24, 2007 – A Louisiana judge ruled Friday that Mychal Bell, the teen whose conviction for assaulting a White student was thrown out of court, must stay in jail while an appeal is being reviewed.

Bell’s attorneys had sought to have him released at a juvenile hearing, but the rejection means it’s unlikely he’ll go home on bail anytime soon, a source told The Associated Press about the anonymous proceedings. "This is why we did not cancel the march," the Rev. Al Sharpton told AP. "When they overturned Mychal's conviction, everyone said we won." Bell, 17, was convicted of aggravated second-degree battery, which could have led to 15 years in prison. But his conviction was thrown out by a state appeals court that said he could not be tried on the charge as an adult because he was 16 at the time of the beating.

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On Friday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said the U.S. Justice Department must intervene to ensure that Bell's rights are not violated, and Sharpton promised to meet with several members of Congress, including the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, about the "Jena 6" case.

In yet another blow to Bell’s case, a judge refused a defense motion to remove Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr. from Bell's case, AP reported, attributing the information to John Jenkins, the father of one of Bell's co-defendants. Defense lawyers argue that Mauffray set bail – $90,000 — unjustly high even before Barker was convicted was convicted for beating his White schoolmate, Justin Barker. Mauffray said the bail was set high because of Bell's prior criminal record, which included juvenile arrests for battery and property damage.

Written by BET-Staff


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