Mychal Bell Gets Plea Deal

4 12 2007

Plea deal arranged for teen in Jena 6
No trial, lesser charge may ease way for rest

By Howard Witt

finally.

“The district attorney in the racially-charged Jena 6 case in Louisiana agreed to a plea bargain Monday that sharply reduced the charges against the first of the six black teenagers who was facing trial, while attorneys for other defendants said the prosecutor appeared eager to settle their cases as well.

LaSalle Parish District Atty. Reed Walters, whose initial decision to charge the black teenagers with attempted murder for beating a white youth was condemned as excessive by civil rights leaders, dropped a conspiracy charge against Mychal Bell, 17, and agreed to let him plead guilty to a juvenile charge of second-degree battery, with a sentence of 18 months and credit for time he has served in jail.

District Judge J.P. Mauffray approved the plea agreement Monday afternoon, just three days before Bell’s trial in juvenile court was to have begun. Bell’s attorneys said Walters offered them the plea agreement Thursday, a week after a coalition of U.S. media companies, led by the Chicago Tribune, successfully sued Mauffray to force him to open the trial to the public and the press.

“This case has been a very difficult chapter in the town’s life and for the individuals involved,” said David Utter, an attorney for another of the Jena 6 defendants who was charged as a juvenile…”

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