Witness testifies in teen burning case

Boy says he saw teens chasing Brewer


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A boy who witnessed the aftermath of the attack on Michael Brewer testified Wednesday in the case against one of the teens accused of setting him on fire.

Matthew Bent, now 17, is the only one of the three teens accused of setting Brewer on fire who is taking his chances by taking his case in front of a jury.

The defense is trying to portray the 2009 attack on Brewer, during which investigators said he was doused with rubbing alcohol and set on fire, 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 family bike.

Tyler Hand, now 14, who was 11 at the time, testified Wednesday that he heard Bent offering $5 to anyone in the neighborhood who would beat up Brewer.

Hand said that on the day of the attack, he saw Bent with rubbing alcohol and saw Bent and others chasing Brewer. He said he did not see Brewer catch fire, but he did see him jump into a pool to try to douse the flames.

During cross examination, the defense worked to find holes in Hand's testimony by saying that what Hand told detectives on the day of the attack and what he is saying in court now are two different stories.

"When you told the detective that you knew that you were supposed to tell the truth. Is that correct?" the defense attorney asked. 

"Yes, sir," Hand said.

"You lied?" the attorney asked. 

"Yes, sir. I was scared," Hand said.

Hand said that he is telling the truth now.

Two other suspects in the attack, one accused of pouring alcohol on Brewer and the other accused of lighting the match, pleaded guilty and face prison time.