The deadly weapon was his shoes. That's how the district attorney in a small Louisiana town persuaded a jury to convict 17-year old Mychal Bell, tried as adult on charges of aggravated battery.
Bell is one of the so-called "Jena 6" -- six black teenagers accused of attacking Justin Barker, a white classmate at Jena High School, last fall.
Barker was knocked unconscious and kicked as he lay on the ground. He went to the hospital and was treated for his injuries and released the same day. He went to a school function that night.
Barker was hit from behind and says he didn't see who did it, but school officials soon rounded up six "suspects". Instead of school suspension or expulsion, it became a criminal case. District Attorney Reed Walters had the students arrested and charged with attempted murder. In this state, that can mean 80 years in prison.
Mychal Bell was the first to go to trial. His attempted murder charges were dropped, but he faced a lesser charge of aggravated battery. His public defender called no witnesses. The district attorney told the jury Bell's shoes were a weapon used to kick the defenseless victim. It took an all-white jury just three hours to convict Bell, and he faces more than 20 years in prison.
That was before the news of this story sparked an interest from NAACP, ACLU, and Al Sharpton.
Now Bell has a new lawyer, and we will be in court Tuesday, as the lawyer tries to get the conviction thrown out.
Are the criminal charges realistic or racist? Depends on who you talk to in this town, and many locals refused to talk to us at all. We in the media are "making the town look bad," the mayor told me.
In a town that's 85 percent white, with a white mayor, sheriff, district attorney and trial judge, the parents of the black students who were arrested say their sons will never get a fair trial here. In conversations, they sometimes sound more exhausted than angry.
One question: If justice is blind, does that mean color blind too?
By Susan Roesgen, CNN Correspondent