'Jena 6' teen faces new charge in TX

February 7, 2008 2:44:37 PM PST
A defendant in the Louisiana "Jena Six" case was arrested after allegedly slamming a student's head into a bench at his new school in Texas, police said.The defendant, Bryant R. Purvis, 19, was arrested on a charge of assault causing bodily injury Wednesday after an altercation at Hebron High School. It began because Purvis believed a student had flattened his tires, Sgt. John Singleton said.

Purvis was released from jail Thursday morning.

According to a police report, the student felt Purvis come behind him and "grab his neck with one hand and begin to choke him." Purvis then said, "Don't you ever mess with my car again" and slammed the student's head into the bench of a table and walked away, the report said. The student's left eye was injured, but Singleton didn't know whether he needed medical attention after seeing the school nurse.

School district declined to comment on details of the incident.

Purvis was one of six black Jena High School students initially charged with attempted murder after a 2006 assault on a white student. Charges were reduced, but the original counts caused complaints of harsh, racially motivated prosecution that led to 20,000 people marching in Jena.

Purvis faces aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit battery charges in the Jena case and is set for trial in March. If convicted of both charges, he faces up to 221/2 years in prison.

"At this point, we don't know enough about what happened in Texas to know whether it will affect the Louisiana case," Bill Furlow, a spokesman in the office of LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters, said in an e-mail on Thursday. "Reed hopes to find out more and make that determination next week."

The Texas case had nothing to do with race, Singleton said.

"We don't believe there's any racial motivation behind it," he said. "It was basically a misdemeanor assault that occurred during an altercation."

Purvis couldn't be reached for comment Thursday because there's no listed number for the uncle he lives with in Texas, Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Jason Hatcher. No one answered the door at the home Thursday afternoon. Soon after Purvis' arrest in Louisiana, his mother sent him to live with Hatcher to keep him out of trouble and out of the spotlight.

Purvis' mother, Tina Jones, told the Alexandria Daily Town Talk newspaper that she wished her son could avoid such situations.

"I understand he gets frustrated," she said. "But he needed to walk away from this situation, being that he's already in a situation. It's very frustrating and upsetting to have to go through so much."

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