Closing arguments in Bent trial delayed

Air conditioner at courthouse broken


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A broken air conditioner in the Broward County Courthouse means closing arguments in the trial over a teen being set on fire won't happen until Monday.

Closing arguments in the trial of Matthew Bent were supposed to happen Friday afternoon, but with the AC in the courtroom out, conditions were too unbearable to proceed.

Those who work at the courthouse received an email Friday morning saying that the chillers that control the courthouse's air conditioning system were down. The courthouse remained open Friday, but most judges were not hearing cases because of the heat.

"People were uncomfortable, agitated. It was hot and stuffy, and it was a mess," said one person who was in the building.

"The courtrooms were horrible, just like a desert," said another.

Judge Michael Robinson, who is presiding over Bent's trial, called it a day.

"The heat is unbearable, and to top it off, they've locked the restrooms because they've overflowed. Certainly, I'm not going to expose you all to this type of heat or conditions in this trial," Robinson sad.

With that, the jury headed home, but not before Robinson found some humor in the situation, referencing Thursday night's Miami Heat game, when the team beat the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"It's almost like somebody from Oklahoma City came and sabotaged our floor," Robinson said.

The courthouse is no stranger to problems. It has faced a toxic mold issue and a flood when a huge water pipe broke.

At least one of the air conditioning units was working by late Friday afternoon.

Robinson asked the jury and the attorneys in the Bent trial to return to court Monday morning.

Bent is charged with attempted second-degree murder in the attack on Michael Brewer, who was set on fire at a Deerfield Beach apartment complex in 2009.

Brewer testified Thursday about the attack, which left him with burns over 65 percent of his body.

Two other suspects, Jesus Mendez and Denver Jarvis, pleaded guilty and are already serving prison time in the case.

Bent is accused of masterminding the attack, but his attorneys dispute that claim.