No new trial for Matthew Bent, judge rules

Bent faces 15 years in prison

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Mathew Bent, the Deerfield Beach teen who was convicted for his role in the fiery attack on Michael Brewer three years ago, will not get a new trial.

"I'm going to deny the motion for a new trial," said Broward Circuit Judge Matthew Destry.

Destry made the announcement Monday morning, stating there was not sufficient evidence of juror misconduct to warrant a new trial for 18-year-old Bent.

"I'm not surprised. I think before we start seeing the type of results I think we deserve, there's going to be an appeal," said defense attorney Johnny McCray.

"I'm very happy with that, very happy. We're just looking forward to it being over with so we can move on. We're very satisfied with what the judge ruled this morning," said Valerie Brewer, the victim's mother. "We finally see the light at the end of the tunnel."

Bent was convicted in June of aggravated battery in the 2009 attack on Brewer, who was then 15.

The jury foreperson claimed there was racial animosity and that had affected her verdict. Bent is black and the victim, Brewer, is white. Two weeks ago, jurors were questioned about the case.

"My heart goes out to the families of all the boys," said Reenie Brewer, the victim's grandmother. "I've said that since the beginning. I'm a mom and a grandma. I hate the fact that three boys did something so stupid that day and are in that much trouble. I hate it."

Two other teens reached plea deals with the state and are serving prison time after pleading no contest to attempted murder charges. 

Brewer was chased and doused with paint thinner and then set on fire, but survived after jumping into a swimming pool. 

Bent was originally charged with attempted second-degree murder with a weapon, but jurors returned a guilty verdict on the lesser charge of aggravated battery

He faces a maximum prison sentence of 15 years if his conviction stands, but has asked for a new trial based on the accusations of jury misconduct. Sentencing  is expected to take place before the end of the year.

Destry has yet to rule on Bent's motion for acquittal, which is based on the defense attorney's claims that there was insufficient evidence to prove that any of the teens involved in the attack intended to set Brewer on fire. That will likely happen before sentencing.