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By The Skanner News
Published: 22 August 2007

JENA, La. -- The teenager convicted of beating a student at Jena High School in December 2006 had been convicted as a juvenile for attacking someone a year earlier, then committed three more crimes while on probation for that one, prosecutors say.
That makes Mychal Bell's aggravated second-degree battery conviction his fifth conviction for a violent crime, state District Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr. said Friday.
Because of that record, the judge said, he will not reduce the $90,000 bond he set for Mychal Bell, one of six Black students arrested in the attack which left a White student bleeding and unconscious.
"Past behavior is the best prediction of future behavior," Mauffray said.
The court hearing revealed no details about the earlier juvenile convictions, called adjudications. They were for battery on Christmas Day 2005 and Sept. 2, 2006, and for criminal damage to property on Sept. 3 and July 25 of 2006, said Cynthia Bradford, LaSalle Parish deputy clerk.
Bell and the other five were charged with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy in the fight with Justin Barker.
The charges sparked outrage in the Black community, drawing attention from the American Civil Liberties Union, which is now monitoring the case, and civil rights leaders who contend the youths have been treated unfairly by the justice system.
Bell, who was 16 at the time of the assault, was tried as an adult in June on reduced charges of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy. An all-White jury convicted him.
The other students -- Theo Shaw, Robert Bailey Jr., Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis and an unnamed juvenile -- are awaiting trial on the original charges.
Bell faces up to 22 years in prison when sentenced on Sept. 20.
At a motion hearing Sept. 4, Bell's attorneys plan to argue that his adult conviction should be wiped out and the case sent to juvenile court, or that he should get a new trial because his original defense attorney did a poor job.
--The Associated Press

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