Broward Circuit Court Judge Matthew Destry temporarily denied a new trial to Matthew Bent, who was convicted in the fire attack on Michael Brewer. But he kept open the possibility as he set a new hearing for Oct. 12. Bent's attorney Perry Thurston, prosecutor Maria Schneider, mother Valerie Brewer and grandmother Reenie Brewer commented on the case Tuesday.
A Broward Circuit Court judge temporarily denied a new trial to one of the teens convicted in the fire attack on Michael Brewer, but kept the door open for the possibility with a new hearing next month.
Judge Matthew Destry denied a defense motion for a new trial for 18-year-old Matthew Bent Tuesday, but scheduled an Oct. 12 hearing in the case.
Bent was convicted in June of aggravated battery in the 2009 attack on Brewer, who was then 15. Brewer survived but suffered severe burns.
Destry took over the case in July after Judge Michael Robinson recused himself from the case following a juror's claims that she was pressured to change her decision and didn't think Bent received a fair trial.
"We just want the truth to come out as far as what occurred, was there any prior discussion about what their decision was, and was there any discussion of racial improprieties in the jury room," Bent's attorney Perry Thurston said.
Destry said he will interview the other jurors at the Oct. 12 hearing.
"It is very unusual for a court to overturn based on a juror who's misunderstood the law or who felt they were being pressured into a compromise," prosecutor Maria Schneider said.
Bent faces 15 years behind bars. He had been charged with attempted second-degree murder but the jury, in a unanimous verdict, found him guilty of the lesser charge.
"Whichever way it went today, we were ready, my favorite saying is put your big girl panties on and deal with it," Brewer's mother, Valerie Brewer, said Tuesday.
She added that "it is frustrating, we want this to come to an end and put it behind us and move forward with our future and heal, because it's impossible to heal as long as we have to keep coming back and reliving it over and over again."
Bent, who prosecutors say was the ringleader in the Brewer attack, was the only defendant who went to trial. Denver Jarvis, 17, who poured rubbing alcohol on Brewer, pleaded no contest to charges related to the attack and has been sentenced to eight years in prison with a probation term of 22 years.
Jesus Mendez, 18, who pulled out a lighter and set Brewer on fire, also pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 11 years in prison followed by 19 years of probation.