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Jena Six Teen Uses Defense Funds for School


The youngest defendant in the Jena Six case is using his share of money donated for defense attorneys to attend a private boarding school with a focus on college preparation.

Attorney C. David Utter said that since defense was donated, the money was available for his education at Canterbury School in New Milford, Conn.

Beard is one of six Black students who was accused of attacking a White student at Jena High School in 2006. He has been living with an attorney in New York, and was released from house arrest on unrelated juvenile charges earlier this month so he can attend the boarding school.

The White student’s lawyer says the defense fund money, from donors including rocker David Bowie, who gave $10,000, could go for restitution, rather than Canterbury’s tuition, which is almost $40,000 a year.

Harry Lemoine Jr. represents Justin Barker and his parents in a lawsuit against the parents of all six Jena High School students accused of beating Barker and the four students who were legally adult at the time of the alleged attack.

“I am following up on this,” Lemoine said. He said he will look into legal uses of the money.

Beard is among five of the six students awaiting trial. Mychal Bell pleaded guilty to a juvenile charge.

The charges originally filed against the six youths brought international attention and more than 20,000 people to the rural LaSalle Parish town for the largest civil rights march in decades.

In the summer’s last months, Ninth Judicial District Judge Thomas Yeager let Beard live with attorney Alan Howard while taking English, working as an intern at Howard’s firm and participating in a physical fitness routine.

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

He participated in a football camp led by Canterbury’s coach, and applied to the school.

“Jesse Ray impressed me as a respectful and clear-thinking young man,” coach Tom Taylor wrote to Yeager.

Utter said Beard also has a scholarship and more money is being raised for the rest of the cost. He is director of the Juvenile Justice Program of Louisiana and said that program held the money for Beard.

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