FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The jury in the Matthew Bent trial worked late into Wednesday night, as prosecutors relied on a co-defendant to prove their theory that Bent masterminded the attack on Michael Brewer in October 2009.
Bent is charged with attempted second degree murder.
Prosecutors say Bent planned the attack because he was upset over an unpaid debt Brewer owed him and because he was arrested the day before for trying to steal a bicycle from Brewer’s house.
Prosecutors are trying to show that Matthew Bent wanted Michael Brewer hurt and was willing to pay to see it happen.
But Bent’s lawyers counter that the teens testifying against Bent have changed their stories since the day of the attack in 2009.
Denver Jarvis, who pleaded no contest to his role in the attack, told jurors Wednesday that Matthew Bent offered him money to pour rubbing alcohol on Michael Brewer.
“He said, I give you 10 or 5 dollars if you throw that on Michael,” Jarvis testified, during the second day of testimony. “I said, okay.”
Jarvis testified that as he, Bent and a group of boys walked home from school in October 2009 they saw Brewer. Jarvis said he put the liquid on Brewer and walked to Bent to get paid.
“(Bent) go to reach into his pocket to get the money and I see everybody running,” Jarvis told the jury. “So, I looked back to see why everybody’s running and I see Brewer on fire. So, I realized what I just did and I realized what just happened.
Brewer suffered second and third degree burns on 2/3 of his body and still has physical and mental scars. Brewer is expected to take the stand.
Jesus Mendez pleaded no contest to flicking the lighter that sent Brewer up in flames. Mendez was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Jarvis is serving 8 years.
The state is relying on Jarvis’ testimony to show Bent set up the attack but Bent’s lawyers have a different view of Jarvis’ statements.
“What he’s saying today is drastically different than what he was saying the day of the incident,” attorney Perry Thurston told reporters after Wednesday’s testimony.
Bent’s attorneys showed the jury Jarvis’ videotaped interrogation from two and a half years ago. The lawyers say on the tape Jarvis never mentioned that Bent offered to pay him. The defense says that proves Bent did not mastermind the attack.
“There are at least 10-15 opportunities in that testimony where in any normal conversation that would have come up and it didn’t and it didn’t because it didn’t happen,” Thurston said.
The defense contends that Jarvis changed his story in hopes of getting time shaved off his prison sentence.
Jurors will be left to decide what role if any Matthew Bent played. But Denver Jarvis made it clear he wishes he could change what happened to his one-time friend Michael Brewer.
“I don’t like going to sleep at night knowing that somebody who I grew up with, since elementary school almost died because of a decision I made,” Jarvis said.
Earlier Wednesday several teenagers were called to the stand to describe what led up to the attack.
Tyler Hand says Bent offered him “five dollars to beat up Michael.”
Another teenager Joel Mendez also told the jury that Bent offered him five dollars to fight Michael Brewer.
When they ran into Brewer, Joel Mendez says Bent said to Brewer, “what’s up snitch?”
The trial is expected to last through next week.