Posted Sept. 5, 2007 – Prosecutors in the tiny racially charged town of Jena, La., reduced charges against two more of the six Black teens who are being held after allegedly beating a White schoolmate last year.
The defendants, who are known as the “Jena Six,” originally were charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder – which carried maximum sentences of up to 80 years in prison – after a fight with 18-year-old Justin Baker.
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On Tuesday, Carwin Jones and Theo Shaw’s charges were reduced to aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy.
Earlier, Mychal Bell’s charges were reduced similarly, and he was found guilty. He’s still looking at a possible 22-year term when he is sentenced on Sept. 20.
About a month before the fight with Baker last year, a Black student sat under a tree where White students usually gathered. The next day, three nooses were hanging from the tree. The administration suspended two Whites students responsible, but the school board overturned the suspensions.
Baker reportedly was friends with those responsible for the nooses.
Nationwide, students, ministers, community leaders and civil rights advocates have organized rallies and marches to persuade prosecutors to drop or reduce charges against the teens.
They point out that Baker suffered no life-threatening injuries; he was treated at a local emergency room and released three hours later – he even attended a school activity the same day.
Robert Bailey Jr. and Bryant Purvis still face attempted murder charges, and there are also undisclosed charges against an unidentified juvenile.
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