Beaufort County Teens Tried for Manslaughter

Two teenage boys are being tried in Beaufort County Juvenile Court for beating a fellow student to death almost two years ago. Police say Francisco Bellman and two other students were participating in some kind of initiation at McCracken Middle School for a gang called the Latin Mafia.

Today, one of the boys plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter. The boy took the stand and said Bellman was given two choices for initiation: either get hit by each boy six times or get hit for two minutes straight by three members of the Latin Mafia.

The community was shocked when 14-year-old Francisco Bellman died in March of 2002 from his injuries. It's a tragic story of a boy who just wanted to fit in. It was Francisco's first day at McCracken Middle in Bluffton, South Carolina. Police say he and two other students went into the bathroom for the initiation. The two boys beat Bellman so badly that his heart stopped.

For the next two months, the critically injured teen lay in a hospital bed in a coma. Bluffton residents were hopeful Bellman would recover, but when he died, the community was outraged.

Some even were afraid to send their children to school. "When you send your child to school you expect them to be safe," said parent Beverly Youngblood.

"I'm really angry about it," said Jannett Jackson. "No child should go through that. No child should be afraid to go to school."

The trial for the second juvenile involved in the beating continues tomorrow.

Reported by: Hena Daniels,