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Jury misconduct may prompt new trial

Sept. 19, 2012 at 11:09 AM

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Sept. 19 (UPI) -- A retrial may be held in the case of a Florida teenager who was doused with alcohol and set ablaze surrounded by schoolmates, a judge has decided.

Broward County Circuit Judge Matthew Destry issued a partial ruling on defense motions for a new trial for Matthew Bent who was convicted of aggravated battery in the 2009 attack on Michael Brewer, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Wednesday.

Destry set a hearing for Oct. 12 to question the six jurors who convicted Bent, who was painted as the ringleader of the group.

Brewer, then 15, survived by jumping into the swimming pool at the apartment complex in Deerfield Beach where the afters chool attack took place.

Defense lawyers contend that jurors in the case began discussing the facts and reaching conclusions before closing arguments, a move that Destry said could entitle the defendant to a retrial.

The judge agreed with prosecutor Scott Raft who said the allegation cannot be explored without calling jurors to the stand to testify.

If ordered, a new trial would be on the aggravated battery charge since Bent has already been acquitted of attempted murder.

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