Three teens who allegedly doused their 15-year-old friend with alcohol and lit him on fire in a dispute over $40, a video game and a bike pleaded not guilty Thursday to attempted murder.
Charged as adults in Oct. 12 incident in Deerfield Beach, Fla., were Denver Jarvis and Matthew Bent, both 15, and Jesus Mendez, 16. They were arraigned in Broward County Circuit Court and are being held without bond. Two other boys ages 13 and 15 have been charged as juveniles.
After Jarvis, Bent and Mendez lit Michael Brewer on fire, the victim leapt into the swimming pool at his apartment complex, witnesses told CNN. Brewer suffered burns over 65 percent of his body. He's reported in guarded condition at the University of Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital Burn Center, where he's been in a private room since the incident, CNN reports. Because Brewer has been on a ventilator until last week, detectives have been unable to interview him. "We hope that we can maybe get a statement this week," said sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal.
Gordon Weekes, the attorney for Bent, said it is unfair to try the juveniles as adults.
"It's been decided by society that a 15-year-old can't vote, can't join the armed forces and cannot buy alcohol, because society has recognized that children do not have the ability to appreciate the long-term consequences of their actions," he said. "But they can treat them as adults in court, when we have very capable remedies for them in the juvenile justice system, which is geared toward rehabilitation."