Trial delayed for teen competency hearing

March 12, 2012 at 7:30 PM
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., March 12 (UPI) -- A Florida judge delayed jury selection Monday in the trial of a teenager accused of instigating an attack in which another teenager was set on fire.

Prosecutor Maria Schneider asked the judge to delay the trial of Matthew Bent, 17, so he could undergo a competency hearing Thursday, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. The move was prompted when Assistant Public Defender Gordon Weekes requested the case be tried in the juvenile court system -- Bent was 15 when the Oct. 12, 2009, incident took place.

Schneider, who said she's confident Bent is competent enough to stand trial, requested the competency hearing to avoid the issue being raised on appeal if the teen is convicted, the Sun Sentinel said.

Bent is accused of instigating the attack on Michael Brewer, who was doused in rubbing alcohol and set ablaze with a cigarette lighter at a Deerfield Beach apartment complex.

Brewer survived by jumping into a nearby swimming pool. He suffered second- and third-degree burns over two-thirds of his body, and remained in the hospital for more than two months.

Co-defendants Denver Jarvis and Jesus Mendez have already been sentenced for their involvement. Bent said he was just a bystander and witness.

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