|Updated: 1/04/2013 6:45 pm
||Published: 9/21/2012 8:54 pm
Despite controversy with a juror, a Tulsa County judge sentenced a man in a high-profile murder case to life in prison.
District Court Judge Tom Gillert sentenced Alonzo Johnson, 41, to two consecutive life sentences and a $10,000 fine for the 2008 murder-for-hire plot of Neal Sweeney.
Johnson is the last of three suspects on trial.
In December, a juror wrote a letter to Judge Gillert saying she wanted to take back her guilty verdict.
Trial lawters not connected to the case say three words could trigger a mistrial: threatened, black and defense.
The juror wrote, “I was ridiculed and called names by the other jurors. I was intimidated and felt threatened,” said the juror.
FOX23 News is not identifying the juror who claimed other jurors called her names and she felt threatened, “I believe they convicted Mr. Johnson because he was black and didn't take the stand in his own defense,” said the juror in the letter.
"I think it shows the jury process was flawed in this case. It was fundamentally unfair. If the jurors are back there and other jurors are threatening them, how can you have faith in the jury system? That doesn't work,” said Johnson’s defense attorney, Mark Lyons.
However, the response from a woman on the same jury said she thought the claims were bogus.
FOX23 News spoke to other jurors who said that letter-writing juror never said why she felt pressured or intimidated. However, she was the only juror who initially felt Johnson was innocent.
One juror said during the three-hour deliberation they never talked about race or Johnson not testifying.
In the end, that juror who wrote the letter voted guilty on the murder and conspiracy charges.
"The intimidation doesn't wear off the minute you escape that abusive environment. It still lingers," said Lyons.
The juror voted in the deliberation room on both counts and when the judge polled the jury under oath.
“Four different times she had to think about her vote in the case,” said Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris. "To now say that she was intimidated is just absolutely, it just goes to show that people do not value their oath. She took an oath, she abided by that oath and now she has cold feet."
The final suspect, Mohammed Aziz, did not stand trial but testified against the suspects will be sentenced on January 11th. Aziz is the accused mastermind in the plot to kill Sweeney. He is expected to get a lighter sentence.
Triggerman Terrico Bethel and co-conspirator Fred Shields were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
The contract killing developed in early 2008 after Aziz owed Sweeney money for fuel for his convenience store.
Sweeney owned Retail Fuels Marketing and was killed in East Tulsa business in September, 2008.
Johnson’s attorney plans to file an appeal because of this letter.
FOX23 News contacted the juror who wrote the letter but she has not answered our request for an interview.