DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla – It’s been almost three years since we first reported on Michael Brewer, the then 15-year-old boy who was set on fire by three teens over a $40 debt. A lot has happened since then, but jury selection has started for one of the accused who decided not to take a plea.
For those of you unfamiliar with the story, and don’t feel like clicking the above link, here’s a quick synopsis.
Brewer allegedly had not paid 15-year-old Matthew Bent $40 for a video game. To re-coup his losses, Bent tried stealing a $500 custom bicycle off the Brewer’s front porch. He was caught in the act and arrested.
The following day, Bent and two other 15-year-olds, Denver Jarvis and Jesus Mendez, found Brewer skipping school at an apartment complex. Bent allegedly ordered Jarvis to pour a bottle of rubbing alcohol on Brent, which he did. Mendez then used a lighter to set Brewer on fire.
Engulfed in flames, Brewer ran and jumped into the apartment complex’s swimming pool. Residents came out to help Brewer, who was in extreme pain — as evident by the horrific 911 call. Brewer suffered second and third-degree burns to 2/3 of his body. Shortly after he was airlifted to the hospital, reports were that no one was sure he would even survive.
In an impressive move, Brewer did survive and was released from the burn unit two months later and just in time for Christmas.
Both Jarvis and Mendez pleaded no contest to attempted murder charges in February. Jarvis was sentenced to eight years in prison and more than two decades on probation for pouring the alcohol, while Mendez received 11 years in prison for setting Brewer on fire.
Bent was expected to take a plea as well, but at the last minute he dropped the Broward Public Defender’s Office from the case and hired private attorneys, deciding to take his chance with a jury. After all, he didn’t pour the alcohol nor did he flick the lighter.
Prosecutors will state they have a statement from Jarvis in which he says Bent ordered him to pour the rubbing alcohol on Brewer, but Bent denies that.
“It’s a travesty that Matthew Bent has been charged with attempted murder when there’s no evidence he ever directed anybody to set this boy on fire,” said Johnny McCray, one of Bent’s lawyers.
Both Jarvis and Mendez are expected to testify at Bent’s trial, but it’s anyone’s guess as to what they will say. Brewer can’t give any insight on this particular detail, as he doesn’t remember much about the incident.
Bent was in court as potential, impartial jurors were called the other day, a process that his lawyer noted will be tough. Jury selection continued today, and will resume next Thursday. If he’s convicted of second-degree attempted murder, Bent could go to prison for 30 years.Tags: Attempted Murder, Burning, Denver Jarvis, fire, Florida, Jesus Mendez, Matthew bent, Michael Brewer