Conviction upheld in teen burning case

Oct. 22, 2012 at 3:24 PM
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DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla., Oct. 22 (UPI) -- A Florida judge upheld an aggravated battery conviction against a Florida teenager who set another teen afire.

Broward Circuit Judge Matthew Destry called back jurors in the trial of Matthew Bent, one of a group of teens accused of dousing Michael Brewer in rubbing alcohol and lighting him on fire. Brewer was badly burned but saved his own life by jumping into a nearby swimming pool.

Karen Bates McCord, the jury forewoman, complained she was called a racist by other jurors and pressured into agreeing with their conviction on an aggravated battery charge, The Miami Herald reported Monday.

Destry compelled jurors to testify and answer McCord's allegations. All but one juror refuted McCord's claims. One fellow juror corroborated a portion of McCord's story but stopped short of saying jurors called her a racist after McCord asked fellow jurors during lunch breaks to stop talking about Bent's family, who are black.

Had Destry found jury misconduct the June conviction would have been vacated and Bent would have faced a new trial. As it stands, he faces a maximum 15 years in prison after jurors found him guilty of the lesser of two charges considered.

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