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Juror summoned to court after claiming racism played a role in deliberation

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BRADENTON, FL (WWSB) - A Manatee County juror was called in for questioning by a public defender and state attorney, after she wrote a letter to the courts claiming racism played a role in the deliberation of a man found guilty of second degree murder. 

The juror, Leslie Heller,  took the stand to testify what she says she experienced during her time as a juror for the Jimmy McNear murder trial.

She says based on how she was treated by other jurors is what led her to believe a black defendant could not receive a fair trial. 

Although there was a black man on the jury she was the other black woman out of the other jurors.

In court Heller mentioned jurors did not make any direct racial slurs or comments but often times made demeaning comments towards her.

She also mentioned she felt bullied and pressured into making a guilty verdict against McNear.

He was found guilty of second degree murder along with two other men for breaking into a Bradenton couple's home and shooting them both dead in 2015.

Heller says she was not convinced about the verdict based on the evidence presented in court.

"When the verdict was made I was crying. I didn't want to not be fair but then I was like I can't sit here and continuously be beaten up verbally and not knowing I could come to the judge say hey something has got to stop here because I feel like i'm being pushed up again the wall to make a decision", says Heller. 

State Attorney Arthur Brown says based Heller's statement of no racial slurs or remarks being made during the deliberation he finds no reason to interview any other jurors.

The Court is planning to move forward with McNears sentencing.