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Judge To Decide If Brewer Burning Suspect Gets New Trial

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) -- The case of a South Florida teen convicted in a fiery attack on a middle school classmate went back to court Wednesday where a judge heard arguments about whether a new trial is warranted for the alleged ringleader.

Broward Circuit Judge Matthew Destry will consider if there was insufficient evidence of juror misconduct for a new trial for 18-year-old Matthew Bent. Bent was convicted in June of aggravated battery in the 2009 attack on Michael Brewer, who was then 15.

The jury foreperson Karen Bates-McCord claimed there was racial animosity and division that affected the verdict. She told the judge that jurors began deciding the case while testimony was still going on. Others on the jury told the judge it was just idle chit chat.

Bates-McCord said race played a role too, that fellow juror Maria Linter called her racist. Linter has denied the claim.

If the judge rules in Bent's favor, he'll get a new trial.  When the hearing was over, the judge said he will not make a decision today but will issue his ruling by Monday.

Bent faces up to 15 years in prison if the conviction stands.

Two other teens, Denver Jarvis and Jesus Mendez, both pleaded no contest to attempted murder charges and were sentenced to 8-years and 11-years in jail respectively.

Brewer survived after jumping into a swimming pool.


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