October 22nd, 2010
06:39 PM ET

Burned Florida teen sees accused attackers in court

Michael Brewer in his hospital bed at Jackson Memorial Hospital on November 23.

Lawyers for three Florida teens accused of setting another boy on fire rejected plea deals Friday.

For the first time in more than a year, Michael Brewer saw the three former friends who are accused of pouring alcohol over him and setting him on fire in a dispute over a video game and $40. He suffered burns on more than 65 percent of his body and was hospitalized for over two months after the attack in Deerfield Beach.

One by one, the three teens walked into the Broward County courtroom in orange jumpsuits and shackles Friday. No words were exchanged, and it’s unclear whether the defendants saw Brewer, who sat in the back with his family.

There had been an expectation that a plea deal was imminent, but it was not to be.

Instead, Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey R. Levenson scheduled a hearing for December 13, when he'll review the case's progress.

Police said the attack started over a video game and a bicycle. One of the boys demanded $40 he said Brewer owed him, and when he didn’t pay, he stole Brewer’s father’s bicycle, police said.

Brewer identified the boy, Matthew Bent, to police, and they arrested him. The next day, after Bent was released, the group found Brewer and surrounded him, officials say.

Witnesses told police that 15-year-old Denver Jarvis poured alcohol over Brewer, and 16-year-old Jesus Mendez used a lighter to start the fire. Bent is said to have encouraged the attack.

Witnesses told police that Brewer ran about 100 yards to an apartment complex pool, where he dived in to save himself.

Brewer celebrated his 16th birthday last week. He told CNN’s John Zarrella that he’d like to deal with the three boys himself.

“But it's over and done with. They're getting what they deserved,” he said. “I'm taking therapy to get rid of the anger and stuff."

The three teens were charged as adults with attempted murder. They faced six to 30 years if convicted.

On Friday, Broward County Assistant State Attorney Maria Schneider announced the plea offers that attorneys have been discussing for some time.

Schneider told the court that the prosecution has offered Mendez, who will turn 17 Saturday, 15 years in prison followed by 10 years of probation. Schneider said Mendez ignited the lighter and was more culpable than his co-defendants, for whom Schneider recommended a sentence of 10 years in prison and 10 years of probation.

However, Mendez’s attorney, Melissa Zelniker-Presser, told the court the prosecution’s offer had been 10 years and balked at the offer Schneider announced in court.

Zelniker-Presser and the other defense attorneys then asked that the cases to be reset.

Defense attorneys indicated that they will move forward with scheduling witness interviews in preparation for a potential trial, which probably will not go any earlier than next year.

“We have a significant amount of work left to be done,” Zelniker-Presser told the judge.

Brewer earlier told CNN that he was prepared to see the former friends again in court and would have testified against them.

“I think they're just jerks, and they got what they deserved,” he said.

- In Session's Aletse Mellado contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Justice
soundoff (194 Responses)
  1. Dezertgal

    Sentence them to work for 10-20 years in burn ward.

    October 23, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  2. well

    Kids have inmature bains,and it does mature until 21yr,they be rehab,thanks to all the dr phils here that dont anything.they are kids And our justice system has been corrupted,sickos,losers that want to murder or treat them like adults,

    October 23, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. well

    Cnn is run by indians,pakis,muslims. If the gove invested in after programs or work programs for these kids,all this could have been prevented

    October 23, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. myk c

    The case should NEITHER be murder NOR attempted murder. It must be FRUSTRATED MURDER! Now it's time for all of LEGAL GENIUSES out there to go back banging each other's empty heads here as sort of past time.

    October 23, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jerryfelldown

    Reading here makes me think a lot of u don't have kids. Let me warn u. Don't let no member any age set one of my kids on fire.Yours won't be sucking up that ac in jail for too long. REMEMBER JEFFERY DAHARMAR AN INMATE TOOK CARE OF HIM.

    October 23, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Peter

    What a tragedy. No one wins here but let me just say this. One day those 3 boys will die, and when they do they will go before our maker and be judged for their actions. They might not know what burning feels like now but their souls will burn eternally in hell one day. There isn't enough forgiveness in the world for them. I know not everyone believes what I do, but it comforts me knowing that we all get what we deserve in the end.

    October 23, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RaleighMatrix

    This is a perfect example (and warning) of what can/will happen to a person when you owe someone, even a friend, money or something. Never Under-Estimate The Other Man's Greed. When you owe someone, even a friend, you never know how pyscho they will go to get it back- when they want it back. You have greed to (maybe), but you have to minimize your needs. This sounds more like a prank. Those guys will probably do 5 years. Sue the parents-Take their houses. hehe.

    October 24, 2010 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. RaleighMatrix

    Never UnderEstimate The Other-Man's Greed. Remember the movie Scarface? Scarface Tony's boss- Frank said that to Scarface. Never underestimate the other man's greed. Even if it is your friend. The victim should sue the parents, but otherwise, they should all shake hands, and go home. Nobody really thinks that alcohol can hurt a person that badly. This is more of a prank. That kid's pride is hurt, and he's embarrassed. If you are a nice enough a fella to be trusted with a loan, then you are nice enough for me to force you to pay me back- when and how, i say, for you to pay me back.

    October 24, 2010 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  9. RaleighMatrix

    Find RaleighMatrix in: 1) Facebook as Raleigh Martin. 2) In Twitter as RaleighMatrix.

    October 24, 2010 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. Alexia Miller

    This is what happens with violence, it passes on from one generation to the next. These teens must have had troubled pasts in order to this to the poor kid. Society needs to wake up to the destructive effects of abuse! And more abuse, only perpetuates the problem. What is needed here for these teens to rehabilitate themselves is intense psychotherapy and work on themselves.

    Alexia Miller

    October 25, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
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