Fort Lauderdale, FL – Matthew Bent, 18, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison, as punishment for an attack on a classmate back in 2009. Bent will be given credit for time already spent in jail, leaving him with less than eight years. The victim, Michael Brewer, suffered second and third degree burns, as a result of being soaked with alcohol and set ablaze by classmates.
ABC News reported details of the attack from October 12, 2009. According to police:
“Brewer was cornered near the apartment complex [Lime Tree Village] swimming pool when suspect Denver Jarvis, 15, allegedly splashed him with rubbing alcohol and Jesus Mendez, 16, allegedly used a lighter to set him on fire. Brewer threw himself in the pool in an attempt to douse the flames.”
Why the physical attack really happened, and who acted as the ringleader, is unclear. The assault was allegedly over a marijuana pipe purchase gone awry. When Brewer declined to buy the paraphernalia, Bent went to Brewer’s home and stole his bike. Bent was slapped with a theft charge. The following day Brewer was assailed by a group of peers, including Jarvis, Bent, and Mendez. They claimed to happen upon the bottle of rubbing alcohol used to ignite Brewer.
Denver Jarvis, Matthew Bent, and Jesus Mendez were charged as adults with attempted second degree murder. Although Matthew Bent wasn’t directly active in the assault, he was charged as an accessory to attempted second degree murder. The penalty imposed, if found guilty, can be up to 15 years in jail.
WPTV.com detailed the sentencing outcome of Mendez and Jarvis from February 2012:
“Jesus Mendez, now 18, received a sentence of 11 years in a Florida state prison, one year of community control and 18 years’ probation. Denver Jarvis, now 17, received an 8 year prison sentence, to be followed by one year of community control and 21 years’ probation.”
Mendez and Jarvis plead no contest to second degree murder, while Bent refused a plea deal in lieu of a trial. The plea deal would have given him an eight year jail sentence. Bent was acquitted of attempted murder, but convicted of aggravated battery. Aggravated battery, as defined by Florida law, is intentionally causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement while battering someone.
Michael Brewer was burned over most of his body. He’s since endured multiple treatments and physical therapy, and tries to live as normal of a life as he can. Unfortunately, he is scarred with both physical and emotional reminders of an event that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Nonetheless, those involved in the attack have been tried and sentenced, which gives his family some peace.