Mother of teen accused of fire attack apologizes
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- The mother of a teenager accused of setting a 15-year-old boy on fire said her family is sorry for what happened to the boy, but her son was not the monster portrayed in the media.
Cheri Bent described her son, Matthew, 15, as a helpful teen who would mow neighbors' yards and volunteer at church yard sales. He even served as an altar boy at church and spent weekends playing basketball with his grandfather in Lauderhill.
Cheri Bent said her family was sorry for what happened to the boy, and they were "praying that Michael Brewer has a good recovery."
Brewer, who was in seventh grade the time of the attack, remains in critical condition at a local hospital where he is expected to spend months recovering from burns that covered over 65 percent of his body. On Tuesday, doctors removed a breathing tube from his throat and said Brewer was breathing on his own.
Broward County authorities said Matthew Bent led the Oct. 12 attack on Brewer outside a Deerfield Beach apartment complex by ordering two other teens to douse the victim with alcohol and to set him on fire.
Bent is one of three teens charged with one count each of attempted second-degree murder in connection with the attack.
Denver Jarvis, 15, is accused of pouring rubbing alcohol on Brewer. Jesus Mendez, 16, is accused of lighting Brewer on fire, and Bent is accused of directing the attack, according to the Broward County State Attorney's office. The suspects were being tried as adults.
Authorities have said the suspects were classmates of Brewer at Deerfield Beach Middle School.
Friends and family members said Brewer is a shy kid who loved to play on a rope swing in his front yard and ride his skateboard around his Deerfield Beach neighborhood. The day before the attack, Brewer celebrated his 15th birthday.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)