Teens Who Burned Boy May Be Tried as Adults

Boy in a coma after he was allegedly set on fire over a $40 video game.

ByABC News
October 14, 2009, 3:39 PM

Oct. 14, 2009— -- Four Florida teens who allegedly doused a 15-year-old boy with rubbing alcohol and set him on fire could be charged as adults because of the "degree of cruelty" involved in the attack, officials said today.

A fifth boy who is only 13 may be too young to be charged as an adult.

The victim, Michael Brewer, remains on a ventilator in Jackson Memorial Ryder Hospital's burn unit. Dr. Nicholas Namias said Brewer is critically ill with burns over 65 percent of his body.

"Every part of his body is affected…his torso, legs, arms and head. It does look like the burns to his face and hands are not as bad as they could be," said Namias.

The use of an accelerant means the burn injuries will likely get worse in the coming weeks. "We consider flame burns to be worse that most other types of burns," the doctor said.

Brewer is heavily sedated and his body is extremely swollen, doctors said. Even if Brewer makes it through the next few weeks, there is still the likelihood of organ failures and the painful prospect of multiple operations to replace the burned skin, his doctors said.

The vicious assault has shocked the Deerfield Beach community nestled on the Florida coast just north of Fort Lauderdale, not only for the act of setting Brewer afire but for the teens' chilling reaction.

"I'll be honest with you, a couple of them were laughing about it last night. [Only] one of them seemed genuinely sorry for what he did," said Sgt. Steve Feeley, according to ABC News affiliate WPBF.

"The sheriff called it one of the most heinous crimes he has seen in his 31 years in law enforcement. It's a cliche to say a crime has shocked a community, but this crime really has shocked the community," sheriff office spokesman Jim Leljedal told ABCNews.com.

Charged in the attack are Steve Shelton, 15, of Deerfield Beach, Jeremy Jarvis, 13, Denver Jarvis, 15, Matthew Bent, 15, and Jesus Mendez, 15, all of Pompano Beach.

The boys are all charged with aggravated battery, according to the sheriff's office. In addition, Mendez, who police allege actually flicked the lighter that caused the fire, is charged with attempted second degree murder.