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Bent Sentencing On Hold After Juror Makes Explosive Racial Claims

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A juror in the Matthew Bent trial who voted to convict him of the burning of Michael Brewer  took the stand Friday and told the judge she was pressured by racial threats into voting to convict.

Karen Bates Mc-Cord said she didn't understand the judge's instructions and would have voted not guilty had she known she could go against other jurors.

"The deliberation was not based on evidence. It was color of skin, racism and everything. The evidence was never discussed," she told the court.

Bent was convicted last month of aggravated battery in the burning of Brewer in 2009. The jury in the case found that Bent participated and directed the initial attack on Brewer. He was cleared of a more serious charge of attempted murder.

Bates-McCord said she was pressured into coming up with a guilty verdict -- even though she thought Bent was innocent.

She claims it boiled down to ugly racism.

"Thank God it was a juror between me and juror number 4, 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," Bates- McCord told the judge.

She said at one point the allegations got so ugly, she tried to use the jury buzzer to summon help to the jury room, because she thought there might be a fight. She testified that she was stopped by other jurors.

Bates-McCord went on to say the deliberation was not based on evidence, but rather on the color of skin. The juror said the evidence was never discussed in the case.

Bates-McCord also testified that jurors began discussing details of the case almost as soon as the trial began, instead of waiting for deliberations to begin.

Bent is set to be sentenced on July 23 and faces up to 15 years in prison for the conviction on the aggravated battery conviction.

Two other teens who were part of the attack, Denver Jarvis, 17, and Jesus Mendez, 18, both pleaded no contest to charges against them and were sentenced to eight-years and 11 years in jail respectively.

The other jurors in the Bent case will return for questioning on July 23rd. Bent was originally supposed to be sentenced that day.


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