Michael Brewer Talks to Police for First Time After Burn Attack; Suspect's Brother Expresses Sympathy

Burned teen's parents say their son is determined to heal.

November 5, 2009, 3:24 PM

Nov. 25, 2009— -- The parents of the Florida boy who police say was set on fire by other teens said they're putting their energy into his recovery rather than focusing on the prosecution of the suspects.

Valerie and Michael Brewer Sr.. told "Good Morning America" that their son, Michael Jr., 15, is determined to recover from the second- and third-degree burn injuries he sustained after he was doused with alcohol and set ablaze Oct. 12.

"He's making progress, in my eyes, in leaps and bounds," Valerie Brewer said today. "Yesterday, in physical therapy, they actually had him up climbing stairs. Incredibly painful as it is, he manages to work through it. He finds his happy place in his mind, and he just pushes forward."

The Deerfield Beach teen talked to investigators for the first time this week.

Police say Michael was attacked after he reported one of the accused to the police for allegedly attempting to steal a bicycle as payment for a $40 video game.

Brewer was cornered near the apartment complex swimming pool when suspect Denver Jarvis, 15, allegedly splashed him with rubbing alcohol and Jesus Mendez, 16, allegedly used a lighter to set him on fire, according to police.

Brewer threw himself in the pool in an attempt to douse the flames. His heartbreaking screams can be heard in a 911 call. "Help me," he could be heard pleading. "Please, please."

Jarvis and Matthew Bent, 15, and Mendez, who was 15 at the time of the incident, were charged with attempted second-degree murder. The teens, who were charged as adults, have pleaded not guilty.

Suspect's Brother Expresses Sympathy

Police say they haven't charged two other boys because they believed they were bystanders.

But one of those younger boys reached out to the victim in a public statement.

"I want to express my deepest sympathy to Mikey and his family," Jeremy Jarvis, 13, said. "I will pray for Mikey to grow stronger every day and for Mikey's speeding recovery."

He also had a message for his older brother, Denver, who has been charged in the incident.

"I want to tell my brother … I love him and miss him. I just hope and pray we get through this," he added.

Maria Schneider, assistant state attorney in Broward County and the lead prosecutor on the case, called the attack on Brewer a "horrible, horrible act.

"The injuries to Michael are probably some of the most heinous I've ever had the misfortune to encounter," she said. "The question here is what happened."

Brewer has burns on more than two-thirds of his body, although his face and hands were mostly spared.

He is now out of intensive care and breathing on his own, and Dr. Nicholas Namias, medical director of the University of Miami-Jackson Memorial Burn Center, said the boy's progress is good.

"It's my job to always remain very cautious and always be worried about the worst things but, for now, things are going absolutely in the direction that we would like them to," Namias told "Good Morning America."

Valerie Brewer urged people to think carefully about what they're thankful for this Thanksgiving and, she said, she and her husband are grateful for the outpouring of support from across the country and beyond.

"We get a stack of cards and letters every single day and now that Michael is aware of what's going on, my husband and I bring a stack of cards to the hospital every day, and we read them to him and it brings tears to his eyes and it brings tears to our eyes," she said.

Michael Brewer said his son is handling things well.

"Compared to a month ago, it's unbelievable," he said. "When it happened, he did just what I wanted him to do; find water to get in it, and put himself out. ... I asked him this morning, I said, 'You're still going to fight?' And, he said, 'of course.'"

Most of the 300 or so burn patients the center treats each year were injured in accidents, which makes Brewer's case so heartbreaking, Namias of Jackson Memorial told ABC News in a previous interview.

"This didn't have to be," he said.

"The burns are everywhere," he said. "It's the legs, it's the arms, it's his back, it's his buttocks ... it wraps around to the front."

Cadaver skin was stapled to what's left of Brewer's natural skin to give the excised wounds a chance to heal and regenerate tissue. The human body -- immune-suppressed because of severe injury -- typically accepts the new skin without rejection for some time.

Eventually, Namias said, Brewer's body will begin to reject the donor skin. When that happens, his doctors will assess how much grafting he'll need to cover what didn't regenerate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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