It’s finally over for 5 of the 6 young men in Jena, La.
Five neatly dressed young men answered “Yes Sir,” on Friday as state District Judge Tom Yeager asked them if they accepted the terms of a deal that included pleading no contest to misdemeanor simple battery.
The charges against the five – Carwin Jones, Jesse Ray Beard, Robert Bailey Jr., Bryant Purvis and Theo Shaw – had previously been reduced from attempted murder to aggravated second-degree battery after they were accused of beating and kicking schoolmate Justin Barker.
Civil rights leaders railed against the harshness of the original charge, saying it was because the defendants were black and Barker was white.
“Everybody pointed a finger at Jena during this, but this happens to African-American males across the country,” Utter said. “These young men were lucky that people cared and donated money so they could afford good attorneys. That made the difference.”
The plea deal gave the defendants seven days probation, a $500 fine and court costs. Mychal Bell, the sixth defendant, had previously pleaded guilty to a second-degree battery charge and received an 18-month sentence.