Last Jena Six teen pleads not guilty

Bryant Purvis

By Associated Press

The last of the so-called Jena Six to be arraigned in the beating of a white high school student pleaded not guilty Wednesday to reduced charges of battery and conspiracy.

The trial for Bryant Purvis, 18, was set for March. Purvis had initially been charged with attempted second-degree murder, but that was reduced to charges of second degree-aggravated battery and conspiracy.

The six black teens known as the “Jena Six” were arrested after a December 2006 attack on Justin Barker, who was knocked unconscious.

Their case fueled allegations that prosecutors were treating blacks more harshly than whites, because charges weren’t filed against three white teens accused of hanging nooses in a tree at the high school shortly before the attack. In September, the case prompted one of the largest civil rights demonstrations in years.

Four of the other accused teens also had the charges against them reduced after initially being charged with attempted second-degree murder. Charges against the sixth teen, who was booked as a juvenile, have been sealed.

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