Ongoing Injustice Status

Town Talk staff • August 15, 2008

Munsen sentenced to four months in Noose Incident 

Jeremiah Munsen was sentenced to four months in federal prison Friday after pleading guilty in April to a misdemeanor federal hate crime.

Munsen, 19, was accused of trying to intimidate “Jena Six” marchers in Alexandria last year by having hangman’s nooses draped from the back of his truck.

The marchers were from Tennessee and were waiting in Alexandria for buses to return home after having participated in a September rally in Jena. The rally was to protest the judicial treatment of six black Jena High School students who are accused of beating up a white classmate at school. One of the six has since pleaded guilty to a juvenile charge in connection with the incident.

Munsen also will be placed on one-year supervised probation and five years probation.

Beard using ‘Jena Six’ defense funds for schooling

By Mandy M. Goodnight • • August 15, 2008

Jesse Ray Beard is using his portion of the Jena Six Defense Fund to attend a private boarding school in Connecticut, which has piqued the interest of the attorney representing Justin Barker.

Cost to attend Canterbury School is $39,900 a year, according to the school’s Web site.

Beard is the youngest of the six Jena High School students who are accused of attacking Barker in December 2006 at the school. The six students — known as the “Jena Six” — are black, and Barker is white.

Five of the six students are awaiting trial, while Mychal Bell pleaded guilty to a juvenile charge in connection with the incident.

The incident sparked international attention and led to a march of more than 20,000 in the rural LaSalle Parish town of Jena.

The Barkers have sued four of the Jena Six defendants and all six families. Bell and Beard are not listed in the lawsuit because they were minors at the time of the 2006 attack.

Henry Lemoine Jr., attorney for the Barkers, has said money from the defense fund could go to make restitution for Justin Barker. The fund was generated from donations given, including $10,000 from rocker David Bowie.

“I am following up on this,” Lemoine said Thursday after hearing how Beard planned to pay for his out-of-state education.

This month, 9th Judicial District Judge Thomas Yeager removed the now-17-year-old Beard from house arrest on charges not related to the Jena Six case.

The move allowed Beard to remain out of state and attend Canterbury School, a private boarding school where he had been accepted this summer.

For the latter part of the summer, Yeager allowed Beard to move to New York to live with attorney Alan Howard. The teen had to take an English course, work as an intern in a law firm and be involved in a physical fitness routine.

In a letter to Yeager, Howard said Beard “is an engaging young man, with none of the negative qualities attributed to him by certain media reports.”

While living with Howard, Beard applied and interviewed to be accepted at Canterbury School. He also participated in a football camp led by the school’s football coach.

“Jesse Ray impressed me as a respectful and clear-thinking young man,” coach Tom Taylor said in a letter to the court. “He also indicated a deep desire to have the opportunity to attend Canterbury School, grow as a person and student and realize his dream of going to college.”

The school’s football program has a 100 percent college attendance rate for players.

David Utter, attorney for Beard, said Beard is paying for the school partly with a scholarship, Jena Six Defense Fund money, and additional money is being raised for the remainder of the cost.

Beard’s defense has been done pro bono, so Beard’s $20,000 portion of the defense fund went to his education, Utter said.

“It (the money) was held by JJPL (Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana) and used 100 percent for his education,” Utter said.

Lemoine said he is going to pursue where the defense fund money is at and the legal uses of that money.

He said he planned to track that money.  Motion of the 5

Motion to Modify Beard Probation

Motion to Recuse-Shaw