Five of six black teens accused of beating a white classmate in a case that led to the biggest civil rights protest in decades will plead guilty in a deal expected to be finalized this week, Louisiana court officials involved with the case told The Associated Press Wednesday.
The six students were initially charged with attempted murder in the 2007 attack on Justin Barker in a case that became known as "Jena Six," named after the town where the beating took place. Carwin Jones, Jesse Ray Beard, Robert Bailey Jr., Bryant Purvis and Theo Shaw had the charges reduced to aggravated second-degree battery.
Court officials, who asked not to be identified because the agreement was not yet public, told the AP that those five will plead to lesser charges Friday but would not be specific. Officials also would not talk about penalties.
Bill Furlow, a spokesman for LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters, confirmed the hearing, but said Walters would have no comment.
A sixth defendant, Mychal Bell, pleaded guilty in December 2007 to a misdemeanor second-degree battery charge and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.
The severity of the original charges brought widespread criticism and eventually led more than 20,000 people to converge in September 2007 on the tiny central Louisiana town of Jena for the largest civil rights march since the 1960s.
Meanwhile, Henry Lemoine Jr., the attorney representing Barker in the civil cases, said a lawsuit settlement was agreed to Wednesday with Bailey, Shaw and Jones,
"It's not much, but the Barkers are satisfied," Lemoine said. "They believe it's time to put this to bed."