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Teen found guilty of leading burn attack on classmate

Susan Stocker / Zuma Press file

17-year old Matthew Bent, left, glances at photos of Michael Brewer, who was doused with rubbing alcohol and set on fire, at the Broward County Courthouse on June 12, 2012.

A Florida jury has convicted a teenager of aggravated battery in an attack on a middle school classmate who was drenched in alcohol and set on fire.

The six jurors reached the verdict Tuesday in the trial of 17-year-old Matthew Bent. Bent was accused of orchestrating the 2009 attack on Michael Brewer, who was then 15. Brewer suffered severe burns but survived after jumping into a swimming pool at a Deerfield Beach, Fla., apartment complex.

Bent was charged with attempted second-degree murder, but the jury had the option of convicting him on a lesser charge.


Prosecutors said Bent was the ringleader of the attack, persuading two other teens to pour alcohol on Brewer and set him on fire after a dispute over money that Bent claimed Brewer owed him.

Those two other teens, Denver Jarvis and Jesus Mendez, pleaded no contest earlier and are serving prison sentences. Jarvis was sentenced to eight years in prison with a probation term of 22 years. Jesus Mendez, now 18, was sentenced to 11 years in prison, followed by 19 years of probation.

One testified that Bent offered him cash to douse Brewer with a jug of rubbing alcohol. Bent's attorneys insisted he did not plot the attack.

Alan Diaz / AP file

Malissa Durkee holds a photo of her brother Michael Brewer, whose body was badly burned when his classmates attacked him.

Brewer, however, testified that the confrontation started after Bent tried to force him to buy a marijuana pipe.

Teen set on fire: 'I felt like I was going to die'

Brewer testified that he had just stood there after Jarvis poured the liquid on him, but that Mendez then set him on fire. Mendez useda a lighter to set him on fire, according to prosecutors.

Brewer was burned on more than 60 percent of his body and spent months in the hospital recovering from his injuries.

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