The second day of testimony in the trial of a teenager accused of masterminding the fiery attack of a classmate has failed to produce the level of drama the jurors saw Tuesday.
Matthew Bent, 17, is charged with attempted second-degree murder in the infamous burning of Michael Brewer in 2009. Prosecutors say Bent persuaded two other teens to pour alcohol on Brewer and set him on fire. The case drew national attention for its astonishing cruelty and because Brewer survived the attack, after five months in the hospital.
Prosecutors called four teenage boys to the stand Wednesday who witnessed part or all of the attack. They included Denver Jarvis, who already pleaded guilty to his role in the attack and is testifying against Bent.
Jarvis said that Bent was offering kids $5 or $10 to hurt Brewer that day, including pouring the alcohol, which they had found by chance, on top of him.
"I poured the liquid on him and he just standing there, and I put down the container and I seen Bent coming into the apartment, and I walk over to him," Jarvis said.
Bent rode up to him on a bike, Jarvis said.
"He go to reach into his pocket to get the money and then I see everybody running. So I look back to see why everybody's running, and I see Brewer on fire," Jarvis said.
Witness Joel Mendez said that Bent offered everyone $5 to hit Brewer, and confirmed that Bent told Jarvis to pour the alcohol on Brewer.
The defense claims that Bent was not the ringleader, pointing to Jarvis' recorded statements taken the day after the attack.
Bent's attorney Perry Thurston pressed Jarvis in court about saying then that nothing would have happened if he had just not picked up the container.
"No, all that on the tape happened in 2009. Since the incident of that day I try to forget as hard as I can about this whole situation," Jarvis said.
Thurston said afterward, "We were basically trying to show that what he's saying today is drastically different than what he was saying the day of the incident."
Also testifying Wednesday were Tyler Hand, who was 11 when the incident happened, and his brother, Brandon Hand, who was 12 at the time. Both boys witnessed parts of the assault on Brewer and both were at the Brewer house the day before, when Bent came over and allegedly tried to steal a bicycle.
Their testimony centered mostly on the events of that day, when Bent supposedly got into a confrontation with Brewer's father. But Tyler Hand also said that Bent offered a bounty on Brewer, and he talked about seeing part of the burning incident.
Tyler Hand said he didn't see Brewer actually set on fire, but did see him run into the pool, and while the other boys ran away, Tyler stayed with his friend.
"I saw him take off his shirt, he was running, he was burnt, I wasn't gonna leave him like that," said Tyler Hand.
Joel Mendez's brother Jesus Mendez is due to testify Thursday. Like Jarvis, he has pleaded guilty to his role in the assault and will be testifying against Bent.