Jury Finds Matthew Bent Guilty in Michael Brewer Burning Trial

17-year-old convicted on lesser charge of aggravated battery

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    NEWSLETTERS

    17-year-old convicted on lesser charge of aggravated battery. Prosecutors and defense speak to reporters. (Published Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012)

    A jury found Matthew Bent guilty of the lesser charge of aggravated battery in the 2009 attack on Michael Brewer on Tuesday.

    Bent, 17, had been charged with attempted second-degree murder, which could have brought with it a potential 30-year sentence. But the jury decided to convict him instead on aggravated battery, a second-degree felony that carries a potential 15-year sentence.

    RAW VIDEO: Verdict Reached in Matthew Bent Trial

    [MI] RAW VIDEO: Verdict Reached in Matthew Bent Trial
    A jury found Matthew Bent guilty of the lesser charge of aggravated battery in the 2009 attack on Michael Brewer on Tuesday. The Brewer family was not in the courtroom when the verdict was announced. (Published Tuesday, Jun 19, 2012)

    As the verdict was read, court officials put handcuffs on Bent as he sat behind a desk.

    He has already served two and a half years in jail waiting for his trial. Sentencing is set for July 23.

    The Brewer family was not in the courtroom to hear the verdict, though the prosecution and two victim advocate representatives were there.

    “Michael Brewer spent the last three years healing from his physical wounds and he can now start moving on with his emotional wounds," said Assistant State Attorney Kal le var Evans, who helped prosecute the case.

    He said about the Brewer family's absence Tuesday, "They’ve been here every day, he's a young child, he's been through a lot."

    The Bent family was present. The defense attorneys said they are disappointed in the decision, and said they walked in expecting a not guilty verdict.

    “He understands what happened," Bent's attorney Perry Thurston said. "He’s disappointed, because he maintains his position. He's disappointed but he understands and we're going to prepare for the sentencing.”

    Brewer Burning Case Timeline

    Brewer's grandmother Reenie Brewer, who has been outspoken on the case, declined to comment Tuesday.

    Tuesday was the second day of jury deliberations in the trial of the teenager accused of orchestrating a burning attack against a middle school classmate.

    Both sides rested their case Monday and the jury began deliberating in Fort Lauderdale shortly thereafter. The jury worked for about three hours on Monday and about 8 hours on Tuesday.

    Prosecutors said Bent was trying to sidestep the blame when he offered others money to hurt Brewer. The defense said Bent "has scars" because of the criminal case against him.

    Bent and two other teens were charged with second-degree attempted murder. Bent's attorneys insisted he never intended to hurt Brewer, who was 15 at the time of the attack.

    Denver Jarvis, 17, who poured the liquid 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 following by 19 years of probation.

    Last week, Brewer took the stand to recount the horrifying encounter in which rubbing alcohol was poured on him before he was set on fire.

    "I felt like I was going to die," Brewer said, as he recalled jumping into a nearby pool to douse the flames. “I started running towards the pool and then I jumped a fence and dove toward the swimming pool."

    Brewer said he remembered a woman and someone else pulling him from the pool and seeing skin hanging down from his arms.

    "I was in tons of pain," he said.

    Brewer was burned on over 60 percent of his body and spent months in the hospital recovering from his injuries.