There was a hearing today in the case of Matthew Bent, who was found guilty of aggravated battery for setting then-middle-schooler Michael Brewer on fire in October 2009. He was supposed to be sentenced July 23, but now the conviction itself could be on the rocks after allegations surfaced in court today that the jury's verdict was based around everybody calling one another a bunch of racists.
"The deliberation was not based on evidence. It was color of skin, racism and everything. The evidence was never discussed," said juror Karen Bates-McCord, according to CBS Miami. "Thank God [there] was a juror between me and juror number four, because she raised up out of her seat and started pointing her finger toward me saying, 'You're a racist, you're a racist. You won't convict him because because you don't like me.'"
Both Bates-McCord and Bent are black.
She also put forward accusations that jurors deliberated the evidence before the trial was over -- another no-no that echoes the claims of juror misconduct in the John Goodman DUI homicide trial, in which one juror said he did vodka-themed experiments before rendering a verdict.
There were also accusations of juror intimidation in the Goodman case -- a juror said, "I was trying to show them another side, and they got adamant with me... I just felt that my voice didn't mean anything, so I kinda went with the flow."
To be fair, that guy sounds like a total wimp, and Bates-McCord said things got so intense in the Brewer case that she once tried to use the jury buzzer for help and was prevented by the other jurors. In any case, being a South Florida juror sounds awful, and the jury has been asked to come back to court on July 23 for interviews to see whether Bent is going to get a new trial for getting convicted by a buncha (allegedly) crazy folks.
Bent's accomplices, Denver Jarvis and Jesus Mendez, were sentenced to eight and 11 years in prison, respectively, and, though Brewer couldn't specifically implicate Bent, Jarvis told the court Bent was offering classmates money to hit Brewer.
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