Grandmother: Brewer's family 'angry, not vindictive'

Brewer not in courtroom for Matthew Bent verdict


Michael Brewer's grandmother spoke Wednesday about the family's perspective on the conviction of Matthew Bent in connection with the attack during which Brewer was set on fire.

Three years after the October 2009 attack, Bent, now 17, was convicted Tuesday of aggravated battery.

When jurors delivered the verdict, Brewer was in his grandmother's back yard, tossing a football around with some cousins.

"We didn't want to face everybody after we heard. We wanted to be in the sanctity of our homes," said Brewer's grandmother, Reenie Brewer. "He's been stressed. It's been a stressful last few weeks. He didn't like having to give testimony. He felt a little bullied on the stand -- rightly so, I believe. Even though we all understand that they were doing their jobs, it didn't make it any easier."

Now, Bent could face up to 15 years in prison, up to 15 years of probation and $10,000 in fines.

Bent was the only one of the three suspects to go on trial. The others pleaded guilty in the case and are already serving prison time.

"We offered 10 years two years ago, and we've really stayed out of the punishment of these boys. We do not want, nor do we accept any of that responsibility," Reenie Brewer said. "We're not vindictive. Are we angry? Of course. Do we harbor some resentment for three boys who almost killed our child? Of course."

Brewer was burned over 65 percent of his body in the attack. Prosecutors claimed Bent instigated the attack, while Denver Jarvis doused Brewer with an accelerant and Jesus Mendez flicked the lighter to set him on fire.

Of Bent's alleged role, Reenie Brewer said, "I don't believe anybody thought it would go in the direction it did. I really don't believe that, but I do believe that if you start something rolling in that way, it never goes to a good place. Had he not been there that day, it wouldn't have happened, I know that."

Although the jury convicted Bent of a lesser charge than the second-degree attempted murder charge for which prosecutors pushed, Reenie Brewer praised the work of the jurors, as well as the judge.

"I think the jury did their job very, very seriously, and I think they took their time looking at all of the evidence, listening to all of the testimony. And, I think they made a decision based on everything they were told and that they understood, and you have to applaud them for that," she said.

After all that Michael Brewer went through after the attack, which happened when he was just 15, Local 10's Christina Vazquez asked his grandmother whether she thinks her grandson will be able to put it behind him.

"I have to hope and pray every day that that is exactly what happens. I can't tell you that I know that's going to happen. I wish I could," she said. "I think it taught some very important lessons to all of us. I think on the good side of things, it made us even closer -- and we've always been tight as a drum, but we are closer now. So, some of the good things that came out of this are that we all appreciate each other more, and I think we also appreciate other people's points of view."

"I hope in my heart that Michael can move on and maybe just help a couple of other kids that may be going through the same kind of thing he was going through," Reenie Brewer said.