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3 teens accused of setting boy on fire face attempted murder charges

By Rich Phillips, CNN
Denver Jarvis, 15, was charged Monday with the attempted murder of Michael Brewer, 15.
Denver Jarvis, 15, was charged Monday with the attempted murder of Michael Brewer, 15.
  • NEW: Lawyer for Denver Jarvis "pretty disappointed" teen is being tried as adult
  • NEW: Victim "getting a tiny bit better every day," said Dr. Nicholas Namias, says
  • Denver Jarvis, 15, Matthew Bent, 15 and Jesus Mendez 16, will be tried as adults
  • The victim, Michael Brewer, 15, remains in critical condition at Miami hospital

Fort Lauderdale, Florida (CNN) -- Three teens who allegedly set a 15-year-old friend ablaze were charged Monday as adults, and with attempted murder, prosecutors said.

The state attorney's office in Broward County, Florida, identified the three youths as Denver Jarvis and Matthew Bent, age 15, and Jesus Mendez, age 16. They are charged with one count each of attempted murder in the second degree in the October attack.

Two other boys also were taken into custody in the incident but prosecutors did not file charges against them, said Maria Schneider, assistant state attorney in charge of the county's juvenile unit. She emphasized that the investigation is continuing.

"This is a very active, ongoing investigation," Schneider said. "As additional information becomes available, then we have the option to revisit our filing decision."

The two -- ages 13 and 15 -- were charged earlier in juvenile court with aggravated battery.

The three charged Monday as adults likely will be arraigned next week, according to prosecutors, who said the other two teens were being released from custody.

A lawyer representing Denver Jarvis said she does not think her client should be charged as an adult. "The juvenile system is designed to deal with children criminally charged. Broward county has chosen to ignore the juvenile system," attorney Valerie Small Williams told CNN.

  • Teenagers
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Miami

"My client has no criminal history other than a misdemeanor trespass. I'm pretty disappointed," Williams said.

The victim, Michael Brewer remains in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, with burns over 65 percent of his body.

Brewer's mother declined to comment on the charges, a hospital spokesman said.

Brewer is heavily sedated and a ventilator helping him breathe does not allow him to speak. Bandages cover his open wounds, and the bandages must be changed daily in a painstaking four-hour process.

"People get sick real fast. They get better slowly, and right now with him we're getting a tiny bit better every day," said Dr. Nicholas Namias, medical director of the burn center at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Brewer has not been able to speak with police since his desperate fight for life began on October 12, when five teenage friends allegedly doused him with rubbing alcohol and set him on fire. The attack occurred after Brewer reported to police that one of them stole his father's bicycle. Police say the bicycle was stolen because Brewer did not pay one of the boys $40 for a video game.

According to police, witnesses said the teens called Brewer "a snitch" as they poured alcohol over him, and one of them used a lighter to set him on fire.

Last week, the mother of two of the alleged attackers issued a public apology to Brewer. Sherry Jarvis, the mother of Denver Jarvis, who was charged Monday, and the 13-year-old, said she prays for Brewer's recovery.

"This is a horrible incident that should have never occurred," said Sherry Jarvis.

"And we pray for Michael's recovery every day -- that he gets stronger, which we know, in our hearts, that he will," she said.

The Jarvis family has gotten death threats, according to the family, and an attorney for the 13-year-old -- who was released from juvenile custody Monday night -- said "he'll be headed out of the area."

"He's not going to be going home. He'll be staying with relatives out of the area," attorney Stephen Melnick told CNN.

Dr. Namias said in an interview that burns of the magnitude suffered by Brewer are hard for most people to imagine.

"What I tell families when we meet in the family room at the start -- I have to explain to them this is really a big deal, this is not just a little skin condition," he told CNN.

"His life and your family's life have now changed forever."

Namias says that Brewer has two things on his side -- his youth, and the fact that his hands and face are not burned, which can be physically and emotionally scarring.

"Our expectation is survival, and we would be devastated if he didn't. But I don't think that we would be surprised if he didn't," Namias said.