Despite the jury’s compromise verdict in the Matthew Bent trial, burning victim Michael Brewer is satisfied that all the boys who had a part in setting him on fire will be punished, his mother said Wednesday.
"We were happy with the verdict, we got justice, which is what we were ultimately looking for,” Valerie Brewer said.
"Michael is happy with the verdict. It’s been very difficult on him, he was having nightmares again last night,” she added.
A jury found Bent, 17, guilty of the lesser charge of aggravated battery in the 2009 attack on Michael Brewer on Tuesday.
Bent had been charged with attempted second-degree murder, but the jury decided to convict him instead on aggravated battery, a second-degree felony. He is due to be sentenced July 23.
Brewer’s grandmother, Reenie Brewer, said she thinks the conviction for aggravated battery instead of attempted second-degree murder does send an adequate message to Bent.
"We have to make sure young people all over the world know their actions will have repercussions,” she said.
Bent and Denver Jarvis and Jesus Mendez were charged with second-degree attempted murder for the Oct. 12, 2009 attack in Deerfield Beach.
Jarvis, 17, who poured rubbing alcohol on Brewer, pleaded no contest 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 following by 19 years of probation.
Prosecutor Maria Schneider said she too is satisfied with the verdict, given the difficulties of proving that Bent instigated but did not take part in the attack.
"One of the things that has concerned us from the beginning is that Mr. Bent did not show any remorse nor any sense of responsibility for anything that happened,” she said.
She said she thinks jury did listen to her when she admonished jurors not to let Bent get away with letting other kids do his dirty work for him.
"I do, and that was what was most important to us. I think it would've been a terrible message to send the public that one could insulate one's self from responsibility by having someone else carry out the acts, and I'm very grateful to see that did not happen,” Schneider said.
Reenie Brewer said of her grandson, “Michael is torn between sadness, anger, and fear."
Valerie Brewer says the mental and emotional scars for her son are worse than his physical scars.
Now she and the family are looking forward to just getting on with their lives, she said.