Teen burning victim's mother testifies

Matthew Bent goes on trial in attack on Michael Brewer


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The trial began Tuesday for the last teen accused in the 2009 attack on Michael Brewer.  

Matthew Bent, now 17, faces second-degree attempted murder charges for allegedly being a part of the group that threw rubbing alcohol on Brewer, then 15, and then igniting a lighter. Bent is pleading not guilty.

Brewer's mother, Valerie Brewer, took the stand first on Tuesday morning, recounting the day her son was set on fire.

"I'm standing in the front yard and the trauma hawk flies over my head," she said.

Valerie Brewer could barely give her testimony before breaking down and being brought tissues and water.

"I walk into the (emergency room) and he's laying on a gurney, and he has blisters all over him," she said as she brought up the memories of what her son looked like after being set on fire that life-changing day in October 2009.

Valerie Brewer described what she said her family is still suffering from, nearly three years after the fiery attack.

"The night terrors that we still live through on a weekly basis -- he wakes up screaming in the middle of the night that he's still on fire," she said.

The prosecution claimed Bent masterminded the attack.

"I'm going to tell you to hold Matthew Bent responsible for his actions," state Prosecutor Maria Schneider said in her opening statement.

The state is claiming Bent instructed Denver Jarvis to pour rubbing alcohol on Michael Brewer while Jesus Mendez flicked the lighter, which ignited the teen in flames.  Both have already pleaded no contest and are currently serving prison terms. Jarvis received eight years behind bars, and Mendez was sentenced to 11. But, Bent's defense team claims he had nothing to do with the attack.   

"He was there, but he did not, he did not have any involvement in this, and that's why he's entered his plea of not guilty," defense attorney Perry Thurston said in his opening statement.

Michael Brewer's sister, Melissa Durke, took to the stand, testifying she witnessed Bent threaten her brother and then steal their dad's bike as payback for an alleged unpaid debt.

"He says to my brother, 'I have something for you, Michael. Do not go to school,'" Durke testified.

Judge Michael Robinson allowed only a portion of Bent's interrogation video to be played for jurors. On the tape, Bent does not discuss the fire, only the bike, which he claims he did not steal.

Bent faces 30 years in prison if convicted.  He is also facing burglary and grand theft charges involving the stolen bike.

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