Doncorrion Spates, center, with defense attorneys Michael Lanigan and John Bishop in the courtroom on Feb. 9, 2018, when the verdict was read.

WATERLOO — A Waterloo teen won’t receive a new trial after a juror raised alarms about alleged racial comments during his murder trial.

A Black Hawk County jury found Doncorrion Spates, 18, who is black, guilty of first-degree murder in the July 17, 2016, shooting death of 21-year-old Otavious Brown.

In a decision handed down last week, Judge Thomas Bitter ruled there was no indication that race played a role in the verdict.

“Every juror confirmed that his/her verdict was unaffected by the defendant’s race,” Bitter wrote in his decision. He wrote that even the juror who raised the issue admitted she wasn’t trying to win Spates a new trial but only wanted to bring racial disparities to light and appeared to want greater minority representation on juries.

Spates had been convicted following a 2018 trial that acquitted two co-defendants.

Immediately following the verdict, one of the jurors told the judge that another juror had stated, “that’s what they do” during deliberations over the fatal shooting.

Other statements from the juror included, “all African-American young men are gang bangers” during testimony and “black people are desensitized to shooting” or “desensitized to killing” and “they are just raised that way,” during deliberations, according to the reporting juror, who said the juror who made the statements was called out on what he said.

The allegations triggered a defense motion to overturn the verdict and led to a series of mostly closed-door hearings in January and February, where jurors testified.

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According to court records, aside from the reporting juror, only one other juror heard a comment about African-Americans and crime. That juror wasn’t able to remember the exact comment, records state.

The 10 other jurors testified they didn’t hear any of the offending comments, although one disclosed hearing a comment that “all black people know each other,” and another heard a comment about the shooting being possibly gang-related, records state.

All the jurors told the court race didn’t play a part in the verdict, according to court records.

Judge Bitter also noted while Spates was convicted, the two other co-defendants, who were also black, were acquitted of all charges during the trial.

Sentencing for Spates is set for later this month.

One of the acquitted co-defendants, Shavondes Martin, was gunned down in an alley behind South Street in May 2018. Brown’s brother, Raymond Birden Jr., has been charged in Martin’s slaying, and he is awaiting trial.

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Cops and courts reporter for the Courier

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