JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville teen banned from Duval County schools for bullying was back in the courthouse Tuesday morning on the aggravated assault charge against her, along with two classmates now being charged as accessories to the crime.
Investigators said 14-year-old Paris Cannon beat an Oceanway Middle School classmate unconscious last month, leaving her victim with a skull fracture and concussion.
Cannon's attorney excused her from Tuesday's juvenile court hearing, where her arraignment was set for May 8.
Two other girls charged in the case -- one for taping the attack and the other for luring the victim to the place where she was assaulted -- were also in court Tuesday.
"It's a group mentality, and for anyone in that group, they've got to be held accountable as a group," said John Phillips, attorney for the victim, 14-year-old Aria Jewett. "You can't individualize and say well she wasn't as liable. Well, that's not what the state says. The state says they're principals."
Neither girl will be allowed back at Oceanway Middle, and a hearing was set for next week before Judge Henry Davis on a request for a permanent ban from that school.
When Davis ruled last week on a similar request to ban Cannon from Oceanway, he made what was called an unprecedented decision to ban her from from all schools in the district.
"We have an obligation to do what we can to make schools safe," Davis said after his ruling last week. "Children ought to be able to go to school and feel safe. They should not have to worry about being beaten up, given physical injuries, permanent injuries at their schools. The schools belong to everybody and not just one person or one group of people."
While Phillips called Cannon a "serial bully," her attorney insists that's not the case.
"I think my client is a kid," Richard Brown told Channel 4. "She got involved, obviously, in this conflict, and that's something that does happen with kids from time to time. I don't think she's any more dangerous then any other 14-year-old girl."
Brown said he plans to appeal the judge's ruling banning her from school. He said the teen's parents live out of state and she lives with her older sister, who works to support them both so she can't home school her or afford private school.
For the sake of his client, Jewett (pictured, right, in the hospital), Phillips is glad Cannon is barred from returning to school, and hopes the two other girls will receive similar bans.
"I want her to be able to go to school in peace without fear and finish her school year," Phillips said. "After that, we can address what needs to be done."
In the meantime, Jewett's mom urges other parents to make an extra effort to find out what's going on in their children's lives.
"A lot of them are scared to talk to their parents," said Melissa Thomas. "Aria, she didn't tell me anything. I didn't know anything. So I want parents to be on their children, talk to them, especially teachers at school, all of that."
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