FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A man convicted of orchestrating an attack on a middle school classmate who was soaked in alcohol and lit ablaze accepted a plea deal Wednesday for theft charges related to the case.
Matthew Bent, now 19, pleaded no contest to trespassing and petty theft. He was credited for time served.
"We felt it was a fair and just resolution," said Bent's attorney, Gordon Weekes. "Now he can put it behind him and move forward with his life. Hopefully, there can be some closure."
"I'm just happy that it's over," added Dennis Bent, his father.
In Dec. 2012, Bent was sentenced to 11 years in prison for the 2009 attack on Michael Brewer.
The series of events began with a marijuana pipe that Brewer testified Bent wanted him to purchase. When Brewer declined, Bent allegedly went to the Brewer home and tried to steal a bicycle. Bent was arrested on theft charges.
The next day, fearing a reprisal, Brewer stayed home from Deerfield Beach Middle School that most of the boys involved attended. When school let out, Bent and a group of boys were walking home when they happened to find a jug of rubbing alcohol atop an apartment complex wall. About the same time, they ran into Brewer, who had decided to go over to a friend's house.
What happened next is in dispute. Some boys say Bent offered to pay them to punch Brewer, and others say it was Bent who signaled that they would pour the alcohol on him. Ultimately, according to trial testimony, the jug was dumped on Brewer by Denver Colorado Jarvis and then Jesus Mendez flicked his lighter.
Brewer survived by leaping into an apartment complex swimming pool but suffered severe burns over two-thirds of his body.
Jarvis and Mendez pleaded no contest to attempted second-degree murder charges. Jarvis is serving an eight-year sentence and Mendez was sentenced to 11 years. Bent at one point was offered a plea deal and eight-year sentence, but opted for trial. He was acquitted of the attempted murder charge but convicted of aggravated battery in June.
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