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Judge won't drop charges against 'Jena 6' defendant

  • Story Highlights
  • Attorneys for Mychal Bell argue their client faces double jeopardy
  • Bell is one of six black students accused in the beating of a white student
  • Bell is the only one of the teens who remains in jail
  • His trial is set to begin December 6
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JENA, Louisiana (CNN) -- A juvenile court judge Thursday denied a defense request to drop charges against one of six black students accused in the beating of a white student, according to a source inside the courtroom.

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Supporters surround Mychal Bell after his release at the LaSalle Parish courthouse in September.

Attorneys for Mychal Bell, 17, had argued their client faced double jeopardy because he had already been tried and convicted of battery and conspiracy to commit battery in adult court.

Those convictions were overturned in September, and prosecutors brought charges against him in juvenile court.

Bell's attorneys intend to appeal Thursday's decision to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Lake Charles, Louisiana, said the source, who requested anonymity because of the gag order imposed by the judge.

Bell's trial has been set for December 6.

At a November 21 hearing, the court will hear arguments from media organizations, including CNN, to open the juvenile court proceedings to the public and the media.

Bell is the only one of the teens who remains in jail.

Although he was released in September after his adult conviction was overturned, he was ordered two weeks later to spend 18 months in a juvenile facility for a probation violation relating to an earlier juvenile conviction.

Civil rights leaders Martin Luther King III and Al Sharpton led more than 15,000 marchers to Jena -- a town of about 3,000 -- in September to protest how authorities handled the cases against Bell and five other teens accused of the December 2006 beating of fellow student Justin Barker.

The attack came after months of racial tension, including at least two instances of fighting in the town, sparked originally when three white teens hung nooses from a tree on school property to taunt black students who wanted to sit under the tree.

On Wednesday, charges against Bryant Purvis were reduced to second degree aggravated battery during his arraignment.

Purvis, who was facing charges of second-degree attempted murder and conspiracy, entered a not guilty plea to the reduced charges in the LaSalle Parish Courthouse in Jena.

Charges had already been reduced against at least four of the students accused.

Information about charges against Jesse Ray Beard, who was 14 at the time of the alleged crime, are unavailable because he's a juvenile.

Prosecutors originally charged all six black students accused of being involved in beating Barker with second-degree attempted murder and conspiracy. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Mychal BellJena (Louisiana)

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