Convicted Teen Seeks New Trial in Michael Brewer Burning Case

Attorneys in court to ask for new trial for Matthew Bent

By Brian Hamacher and Ari Odzer
|  Friday, Jul 6, 2012  |  Updated 8:22 PM EDT
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Attorneys for the South Florida teen convicted for his role in the fiery attack on Michael Brewer were back in court Friday to ask a judge for a new trial. Shortly after the verdict, Juror Karen Bates McCord sent a letter to Broward Circuit Judge Michael Robinson saying she did not believe Bent received a fair trial. She claimed other jurors had already made up their minds before the trial was over.

Attorneys for the South Florida teen convicted for his role in the fiery attack on Michael Brewer were back in court Friday to ask a judge for a new trial. Shortly after the verdict, Juror Karen Bates McCord sent a letter to Broward Circuit Judge Michael Robinson saying she did not believe Bent received a fair trial. She claimed other jurors had already made up their minds before the trial was over.

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Brewer Family Says It's Happy With Verdict in Matthew Bent Trial

Despite the jury’s compromise verdict in the Matthew Bent trial, burning victim Michael Brewer is satisfied that all the boys who had a part in setting him on fire will be punished, his mother, Valerie Brewer, said Wednesday. But she also told NBC 6 her son had nightmares about the incident on Tuesday night.
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Attorneys for the South Florida teen convicted for his role in the fiery attack on Michael Brewer were back in court Friday to ask a judge for a new trial.

A jury last month convicted 17-year-old Matthew Bent on an aggravated battery charge in the 2009 attack on Brewer at a Deerfield Beach apartment complex.

He had been charged with attempted second-degree murder but the jury, in a unanimous verdict, found him guilty of the lesser charge.

Shortly after the verdict, Juror Karen Bates McCord sent a letter to Broward Circuit Judge Michael Robinson saying she did not believe Bent received a fair trial.

McCord said she did not understand the jury’s instructions and felt pressured to change her decision, particularly after she was accused of being racist by fellow jurors.

On Friday, the judge called a hearing to determine whether or not to grant the defense a new trial.

McCord was called to testify and said she was pressured to vote guilty.

"During the deliberations, the deliberation was not based on the evidence, it was based on color of skin, racist, the evidence was never discussed," McCord said.

She was one of six jurors, and three black individuals, who convicted Bent. She claimed other jurors had already made up their minds before the trial was over.

"At one point I got up to ring the bell to tell the judge there was a problem in the back and another juror stopped me and said you don't have the right to decide this case on your own," McCord said. When asked what she was going to ring the bell for, McCord said, "To tell the judge we couldn't come to an agreement in the back."

Robinson said the hearing will resume on July 23, and he will call all the jurors in to hear from them.

Bent's attorney, Johnny McCray said that the juror’s letter and her allegations of racial tension impeded Bent's right to a fair and impartial jury.

He told NBC 6 he welcomed the opportunity to hear from all the jurors.

Prosecutor Maria Schneider told NBC 6, "I feel it is a just and fair verdict but I also feel that in order to wholeheartedly assert that it is important to have all the issues brought and examined in open court and that's what we intend to do."

Brewer Burning Case Timeline

Bent could face up to 15 years in prison. He was scheduled to be sentenced July 23 but that could now be postponed.

Denver Jarvis, 17, who poured the liquid on Brewer, pleaded no contest to charges related to the attack and has been sentenced to eight years in prison with a probation term of 22 years. Jesus Mendez, 18, who pulled out a lighter and set Brewer on fire, also pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 11 years in prison following by 19 years of probation.

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