(MIAMI) — Michael Brewer, who was nearly burned to death by his middle-school classmates in 2009, took the stand Thursday against the teen accused of planning the attack.
On the afternoon of Oct.12, 2009, Bent and two other teens, all 15 at the time, confronted Brewer near an apartment complex in Deerfield Beach, Fla. One boy doused Brewer with rubbing alcohol they found in a container on the street, then another set him ablaze with a lighter.
“I felt like I was going to die,” Brewer testified Thursday afternoon, NBC 6 Miami reported.
More than two and a half years after the fire covered 65 percent of Brewer’s body with second- and third-degree burns, he confronted the alleged ringleader of the attack,17-year-old Matthew Bent, in a trial that has captured national attention. Charged with attempted second-degree murder and facing 30 years in prison if convicted, Bent was angry at him, Brewer said, because he refused to buy drug paraphernalia from Bent.
“He tried to sell me a bowl that I didn’t want,” Brewer testified, explaining that a bowl can be used to smoke marijuana or tobacco, according to the Miami Herald.
Brewer’s testimony contradicted his statement in a deposition that the source of his dispute with Bent was a $40 video game. Under cross-examination, Brewer admitted that his previous statement was a lie.
The attack came one day after Brewer’s parents reported Bent to the police after Bent attempted to steal a family bicycle. Brewer had stayed home that day from Deerfield Beach Middle School, where all the boys attended, fearing possible retaliation by Bent.
While Bent played no physical role in the violence, prosecutors aim to convince the jury that Bent orchestrated the attack in a quest for revenge against Brewer.
Denver Jarvis, who is serving eight years in prison for pouring the rubbing alcohol on Brewer, testified Wednesday that Bent offered him $5 or $10 to “throw that on Michael,” the Associated Press reported.
Jesus Mendez, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for flicking the lighter that ignited Brewer, is expected to testify Friday.
Brewer survived the attack by jumping into a nearby swimming pool, but his mother Valerie testified Tuesday that her son still requires physical therapy in order to keep his muscles suffciently flexible.
Listen to the 911 call placed after the attack here
Mendez and Denver Jarvis, who is serving eight years in prison for pouring the rubbing alcohol on Brewer, pleaded no contest in the incident and took plea bargains. In February, Bent rejected a plea offer limiting his imprisonment to 10 years, opting for a jury trial instead.
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