FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Michael Brewer faced the three teens accused of setting him on fire in court Friday as they refused to accept a plea deal in the attempted murder case against them.
Jesus Mendez, Denver Jarvis and Matthew Bent are accused of attacking Brewer, dousing him with rubbing alcohol and setting him on fire in October 2009.
The three 16-year-old boys are charged as adults with second-degree attempted murder. They pleaded not guilty last November.
Prosecutors offered a plea deal to the suspects, but on Wednesday, their attorneys instead asked the court if they could enter an open plea and be sentenced instead as youthful offenders. That sentence is lighter than if they'd be considered adults by the law.
Another hearing was scheduled for Friday, and the victim was in attendance. Without saying a word, a solemn, dressed-up Brewer walked into the sixth-floor courtroom. He and his family sat on one side, while the suspects' families sat on the other.
Moments later, for the first time in more than a year, Brewer saw the three teens accused of attacking him, now clad in orange jumpsuits and chains.
But what could have been the beginning of the end of the legal maneuvering was quashed in court.
In the plea deal offered by prosecutors, Mendez, who is accused of lighting the fire, would be sentenced to 15 years in prison and 10 years of probation. Bent and Jarvis would be sentenced to 10 years of prison and 10 years of probation.
"The offer has been on the table for a while now," said prosecutor Maria Schneider.
Defense attorneys for Mendez and Jarvis said they do not accept the deal, while the attorney for Bent did not accept or deny it.
"It possibly could have been resolved today; however, the presence of the media -- the national media, the local media, the print and the television media -- seems to have interjected itself into this particular case," said defense attorney Gordon Weekes.
Weekes said he had hoped the judge would lean toward lighter sentences but that he believed the judge did not want to look soft in front of the court of public opinion.
Neither family commented after the hearing.
Another status hearing was scheduled for Dec. 13, so the wait for the outcome of the case continues.
Brewer had skin grafts and underwent grueling physical therapy for the burns over 65 percent of his body, but he is moving forward at a new school with new friends. He recently told Local 10 the memories have left him with physical and emotional scars and he?s working on dealing with his anger. Brewer recently celebrated his 16th birthday.
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