'Jena Six' Defendant Faces Assault Charge in Texas for School Fight

A defendant in the so-called "Jena Six" case that led to a huge civil rights demonstration here last year now faces an assault charge in Texas for a school fight, his mother said.

Bryant R. Purvis, 19, now living in the Dallas area, was charged with assault causing bodily injury. The charge is a misdemeanor, with a possible fine of up to $4,000 fine and a possible jail sentence of no longer than one year.

Purvis was freed on bail from the Denton County jail Thursday morning.

Tina Jones, Purvis' mother, said her son got into an altercation with another student at Hebron High School early Wednesday after he was told that the student had vandalized his car the night before.

"I wish he could just get in a place where he could walk away from the situation," Jones said of her son. "I understand he gets frustrated. 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."

Purvis, a starter on his school basketball team, had left a basketball game Tuesday night and found that two tires had been flattened.

"And (Wednesday) morning someone told him who done it. That's the reason the altercation happened. And a few days before that happened, he was driving my brother's truck, and someone stole the tires and busted the windows out of it," she said.

Purvis was one of six black Jena High School students initially charged with attempted murder in connection with a Dec. 4, 2006, assault on white student Justin Barker at the school. Charges have since been reduced but the attempted murder accusations brought complaints of overly harsh, racially motivated prosecution that led to 20,000 people marching in Jena in one of the nation's largest civil rights demonstrations in years.

Soon after Purvis' arrest, Jones said she sent him to live with his uncle, Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Jason Hatcher, so he could stay out of trouble and out of the limelight.

Purvis had stayed out of the spotlight for most of the year, but did appear on Black Entertainment Television's Hip-Hop Awards. Purvis and fellow defendant Carwin Jones helped present the Video of the Year award during the October awards show.

Jones said she is confident the judicial system in Texas will treat her son fairly.

She still contends that her son had nothing to do with the attack on Barker, although she knows some will assume that because of this recent incident at Hebron High he is guilty in the Jena High incident.

Purvis is scheduled to go to trial before 28th Judicial District Court Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr. on March 24 in the Jena High attack.

He currently faces charges of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit the same. If convicted of both charges, he faces a maximum sentence of 22 1/2 years in prison.