Brewer describes being set on fire

Burning victim takes witness stand

Published On: Jun 14 2012 04:22:30 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 15 2012 02:06:19 PM EDT
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -

Michael Brewer took the stand Thursday in the trial of one of the teenagers accused of dousing him with rubbing alcohol and setting him on fire.

Matthew Bent, now 17, is the only one of the three suspects to go before a jury in the 2009 attack on Brewer, now 17. He is accused of orchestrating the attack.

Bent's attorneys characterized the attack as a prank gone horribly wrong. Prosecutors said it was a deliberate, vicious attack made as payback after Brewer's family told police that Bent tried to steal a bike.

Denver Jarvis and Jesus Mendez are already serving prison time in the attack. Jarvis is accused of dousing Brewer with alcohol, and Mendez is accused of flicking the lighter.

Brewer had burns over 65 percent of his body.

On the stand Thursday, he appeared uncomfortable as he recounted the attack for the first time. Brewer said five guys, some of whom he knew, approached him, and when he took off running, they ran after him.

"I started walking fast because I was scared and nervous and stuff," Brewer said. "He said, 'Mike, come here. Nothing's going to happen to you. Nobody's going to do anything to you.'"

"What do you remember happening next?" the prosecutor asked.

"I just remember a cold liquid going down my back and I started walking, and I started feeling burning, and then I started running," Brewer said. "I started running towards the pool, and then I jumped the fence and dove into the swimming pool. I remember a lady coming out of her apartment, talking on the phone with, I guess, her fiance, and them pulling me out of the pool, and I remember looking down, and I could see skin hanging from my arms."

"This sounds like a colossally stupid question, but how did you feel at that point?" the prosecutor asked.

"I felt like I was going to die," Brewer said.

During cross-examination, Brewer appeared frustrated and angry. He admitted, however, that he never saw Bent give the others any kind of signal to hurt him.

"In fact, he never blinked his eyes at anybody, did he?" the defense attorney asked.

"No, he didn't," Brewer said.

"And you at no time ever saw him or heard him tell anybody to set you afire, did you?" the attorney asked.

"No, I didn't," Brewer said.

Brewer left the courtroom in tears, in the arms of family members. He and his family did not want to speak to reporters.

Bent is charged with attempted second-degree murder. If convicted, he faces 30 years in prison.