Matthew Bent, 17, told investigators the night of the Oct. 12, 2009, attack that the victim, Michael Brewer, then 15, had owed Jesus Mendez money for marijuana, a statement obtained by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel shows.
The newspaper said the statement was the first indication a debt over marijuana was involved in the Deerfield Beach attack and no other witness has said anybody other than Bent had a dispute with Brewer.
Other accounts indicated Brewer had owed Bent $40 for a children's video game.
Prosecutors say Bent was the ringleader in the attack, in which Brewer was doused with rubbing alcohol and set afire, causing second- and third-degree burns over two-thirds of his body.
Mendez, 18, and a co-defendant, Denver Jarvis, 17, pleaded no contest last month to second-degree attempted murder. Mendez, who admitted flicking the lighter to set Brewer on fire, was sentenced to 11 years in prison, a year of house arrest and 18 years' probation. Jarvis was sentenced to eight years in prison, a year of house arrest and 21 years' probation.
Bent, who has been charged with second-degree attempted murder, could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
Brewer, who survived by jumping into a nearby swimming pool, spent more than two months in the hospital. He has mostly recovered from his wounds, the Sun-Sentinel said.