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Florida teenager found guilty in setting boy on fire

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 3:53 PM EDT, Wed June 20, 2012
Michael Brewer spent two months in the hospital in 2009 when three teens set him on fire in a dispute over $40.
Michael Brewer spent two months in the hospital in 2009 when three teens set him on fire in a dispute over $40.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Matthew Bent was convicted of aggravated battery
  • He and two other teens were accused of setting Michael Brewer on fire in 2009
  • Brewer suffered burns over 65% of his body and was hospitalized for more than two months

(CNN) -- One of the three teenagers accused of setting another boy on fire in Florida in 2009 has been found guilty of the lesser charge of aggravated battery, officials said.

Matthew Bent, 17, charged as an adult, will be sentenced July 23, according to Kim Fontana in the State Attorney's Office in Broward County. Bent faces a sentence of four years and five months to 15 years.

Bent originally was charged with second-degree attempted murder in the Deerfield Beach attack. The jury returned the verdict Tuesday.

The three teens -- Bent, Denver Jarvis and Jesus Mendez -- were accused of pouring alcohol over Michael Brewer and setting him on fire, after a dispute over $40.

Teen set on fire testifies about attack

Brewer suffered burns over 65% of his body and was hospitalized for more than two months.

Jarvis and Mendez pleaded no contest and are serving time in prison. Both testified during Bent's trial, according to CNN affiliate WBFS in Miami.

Bent did not take the stand, and his defense did not call any witnesses, the affiliate reported.

"I am asking that now, today, 975 days later asking you to hold this young man responsible for his actions," prosecutor Maria Schneider said during the trial, according to WBFS. "You can't orchestrate something then wipe your hands and say, 'Oh they did it! They did it on their own, I had nothing to do with it.'"

Detectives say Bent demanded $40 he said Brewer owed him and, when he didn't pay, Bent allegedly stole Brewer's father's bicycle.

Brewer fingered Bent to police, who arrested the teen. The next day, after Bent was released, the three found Brewer and allegedly surrounded him. Police say witnesses told them his attackers called Brewer a "snitch."

Detectives say eyewitnesses told them that then-15-year-old Jarvis poured alcohol over Brewer and then-16-year-old Mendez used a lighter to start the fire. Bent allegedly encouraged the attack.

Mendez has admitted setting Brewer on fire, and that he made a "bad decision," according to an arrest transcript.

Brewer ran about 100 yards to an apartment complex pool, where he dove in.

Speaking in 2010, he told CNN's John Zarrella that he wished he could deal with his three former friends himself.

"But, it's over and done with," Brewer said then. "I think they're just jerks and they got what they deserved."

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