Five of six black Louisiana teens known as the “Jena Six” will plead guilty to lesser charges this week, the Associated Press is reporting.
The teens are accused of beating a white high school classmate in a case that led to the biggest civil rights protest in decades. They initially were charged with attempted murder in the 2006 attack.
Racial tensions at Jena High School reportedly spiked in the months leading up to the assault. Months earlier, a nooses was found hanging from a tree on campus, sparking outrage in the black community.
In September 2007, more than 20,000 protestors marched through the tiny town protesting what they called unequal justice and the severity of the charges leveled against the black teens.
Charges against Carwin Jones, Jesse Ray Beard, Robert Bailey Jr., Bryant Purvis and Theo Shaw eventually were reduced to aggravated second-degree battery.
Citing unnamed sources, the AP said a formal plea could come as early as Friday. Officials would not discuss potential penalties.
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.