Teen Burning Suspects Reject Plea Deal

Suspects In Michael Brewer Case To Return To Court Friday

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Three teenagers accused of setting their classmate on fire last year rejected a plea deal on Wednesday.

Jesus Mendez, Denver Jarvis and Matthew Bent are all facing adult charges of second-degree attempted murder.

The three suspects, all 16 years old, are accused of setting former classmate Michael Brewer on fire.

Police said the teenagers doused Brewer with rubbing alcohol and used a lighter to set him on fire on Oct. 12, 2009, at a Deerfield Beach apartment complex. Prosecutors said the teens attacked Brewer because he had told police that one of the other three teens had stolen his father's bike the day before.

State prosecutors would not release the terms of the deal offered to the three suspects.

In court Wednesday, attorneys for the teens indicated they would not accept the plea deal and instead asked the court if they could enter an open plea and be sentenced as "youthful offenders." The judge said he would consider that before the teens return to court Friday afternoon.

A youthful offender sentence would be a maximum of six years of jail, probation, house arrest or a combination of those punishments. Prosecutors said that would be a lighter sentence than the one included in the plea deal.

Brewer's mother, Valerie Brewer, is expected in court Friday to make a statement about how she wants to see the case handled.

Brewer, who was 15 years old at the time of the attack, suffered burns over 65 percent of his body. After a long hospital stay and months of rehabilitation, Brewer's life has somewhat returned to normal. His family moved to Palm Beach County, where Brewer now attends another school. Family members said Brewer would continue to deal with the physical and emotional scars of the attack long after whatever sentence the suspects receive.

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