Star witness in fire attack testifies

2 teens serving time in attack to tell their sides


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A teenager already serving time for allegedly pouring rubbing alcohol on Michael Brewer before he was set on fire takes the stand in the trial of another teen accused in the attack.

Denver Jarvis is serving an eight-year sentence after he admitted to dousing Brewer with alcohol. His friend, Jesus Mendez, was sentenced to 11 years for allegedly flicking the lighter, igniting the alcohol and setting Brewer on fire.

Jarvis and Mendez are considered star witnesses in the trial of Matthew Bent, the only one of the suspects to go before a jury.

Prosecutors claim Bent orchestrated the attack in 2009. His defense claims Bent had nothing to do with it.

"He said, 'I'll give you $10 or $5 if you throw down Michael,'" Jarvis said. "I stand next to Michael, and I poured the liquid on him, and I put down the container, and I seen Bent come into the apartment. He go to reach into his pocket to the get the money, and I see everybody running. So, I look back to see why everybody's running, and I see Brewer on fire."

But, Bent's legal team spotted a weakness in Jarvis' story.

"Matthew was not standing there, saying, 'Go ahead, pour it,'" a defense attorney said.

"No," Jarvis said.

"Because he wasn't even there," the defense attorney said.

"Right," Jarvis said.

As the defense began to cross examine Jarvis, he got nervous, his responses uncertain, and unexpectedly, he blurted out a statement of remorse.

"Since the incident on that day, I try to forget as hard as I can about this whole situation because I don't like going to sleep at night knowing that somebody who I grew up with since elementary school almost died because of a decision I made," Jarvis said.

Two other children testified that on that day, they did hear Bent offering $5 to the kids in the area if they would "hurt" Brewer.

Mendez is expected to testify Thursday.