Jury Convicts Teen of Setting Classmate on Fire

A Florida jury has convicted a teenager of aggravated battery in an attack on a middle school classmate who was drenched in alcohol and set on fire.

The six jurors reached the verdict Tuesday in the trial of 17-year-old Matthew Bent.

Bent was accused of orchestrating the 2009 attack on Michael Brewer, who was then 15.

Brewer suffered severe burns but survived after jumping into a swimming pool.

Bent was charged with attempted second-degree murder, but the jury had the option of convicting him on a lesser charge.

Two other teens pleaded no contest earlier and are serving prison sentences.

One testified that Bent offered him cash to douse Brewer with a jug of rubbing alcohol.

Bent’s attorneys insisted he did not plot the attack.

Brewer testified that the confrontation started after Bent tried to force him to buy a marijuana pipe.

Bent considered entering a plea of no contest to a charge of attempted second-degree murder, ut his attorneys advised against it at the last minute, insisting he was not the instigator of the attack and never intended to hurt the 15-year-old victim.

On Tuesday, jurors convicted the 17-year-old Bent of a lesser charge of aggravated battery.

A conviction for aggravated battery carries a maximum of 15 years in prison, about half of what one for attempted second-degree murder brings.

Bent will be sentenced July 23.

His lawyers say they plan to file an appeal.