Lawyer wants to investigate juror harassment in Neal Sweeney murder trial
BY BILL BRAUN World Staff Writer
Friday, January 04, 2013
1/04/13 at 5:00 AM
The lawyer for a man who is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in the Neal Sweeney murder case is asking for time to research allegations that a juror was threatened and intimidated by other jurors during deliberations.
Attorney Mark Lyons, representing Alonzo "Jack" Johnson, filed a motion Thursday requesting that Johnson's sentencing be postponed for 30 days or, in the alternative, to extend for 30 days the time to file a motion for a new trial or other appropriate post-trial motions.
According to Lyons' filing, he needs time to research the factual basis of a complaint that a juror was intimidated into voting to convict Johnson.
A letter sent to District Judge Tom Gillert in December, signed by a woman who identifies herself as a juror in the Johnson case, states that she was the only juror who didn't believe that the prosecution proved that Johnson was guilty. She said she voted with other jurors to convict "because they said we had to come to a unanimous decision."
In the letter, filed as a court document, the juror said she was ridiculed and intimidated by other jurors.
On Dec. 12, jurors imposed two life prison terms upon finding Johnson, 41, of Broken Arrow guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
He also was fined $10,000. His formal sentencing is scheduled for Friday.
Jurors returned verdicts in two stages at the trial. In both, jurors were polled by Gillert, and all jurors indicated that they agreed with the verdicts.
Sweeney, 63, was shot once in the head on Sept. 4, 2008, at his business, Retail Fuels Marketing, 3158 S. 108th East Ave. He died the next day.
Prosecutors alleged that Johnson took a van from a parking lot in Muskogee after a man who knew Johnson - and who did not own the van - gave him a key to the vehicle, which was subsequently reported as stolen. Prosecutors alleged that the van was used by triggerman Terrico Bethel to travel to and from the shooting scene.
Mohammed Aziz, a convenience store operator, has said he paid to have Sweeney killed.
Retail Fuels Marketing had stopped regular delivery of fuel to Aziz's convenience stores because Aziz was not making payments, and the resulting lack of gasoline created major financial problems for him, testimony indicated.
Aziz pleaded guilty to solicitation of murder, and prosecutors dismissed murder and conspiracy counts against him. His deal calls for a 25- to 35-year prison term, and he is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 11.
Bethel and Fred Shields Jr. were convicted of murder and conspiracy counts at separate trials.
Original Print Headline: Lawyer says juror was pressured
Bill Braun 918-581-8455
Alonzo "Jack" Johnson: Prosecutors say he took a van from a parking lot in Muskogee after a man who knew him gave him a key to the vehicle. Prosecutors allege that the van was used by Terrico Bethel to travel to and from the scene where Tulsa businessman Neal Sweeney was killed. Johnson was convicted of first-degree murder for his role in the crime