Mychal Bell of the "Jena Six" was handed an unexpected 18-month sentence by a judge in juvie court yesterday—on charges unrelated to the attack on a white classmate that drew national attention last month. The charges of battery and destruction of property were pending before the December 4 incident; the judge ruled yesterday that the fight that day violated the terms of his probation on the earlier conviction.
Bell, now 17, had been expecting a routine hearing yesterday, reports the AP. He was originally charged with murder for the attack, along with five other black teens, on Justin Barker, but the charges were later reduced, and an appeals court threw out the conviction on the grounds that he shouldn't have been tried as an adult. Some 20,000 demonstrators descended on the Louisiana town to protest the harshness of the teens' treatment.