Courts & Crime

Burned South Florida teen draws support from around globe

Burn victim Michael Brewer lives in a limited world, one of bandages and painkillers.

But beyond the walls of the University of Miami-Jackson Memorial Burn Center, he is a celebrated cause.

More than a month after the Deerfield Beach teenager was attacked, the fundraisers continue, the cards still arrive and people around the globe include him in their prayers.

"My heart was just so moved, as a parent. I can't imagine it," said Eric Blevins, a South Carolina man who heard the 911 call for help and now follows Brewer's progress on the Facebook page Pray for Michael Brewer.

"Something about it gets to your soul."

The outpouring doesn't surprise Tonia Werner, a forensic psychiatrist and assistant professor at the University of Florida. We can't help those who die, she explained. But we can help survivors, especially those who face as long and difficult a recovery as Brewer.

"We look at children as needing protection and being more vulnerable to these types of crimes and activities," Werner said. "Certainly, this has changed his life forever."

The day that changed Brewer's life forever was Oct. 12. That day, five boys from Deerfield Beach Middle School surrounded Brewer. Broward Sheriff's deputies said that Denver Colorado Jarvis doused him in rubbing alcohol, and Jesus Mendez lit him on fire.

They did it at the command of Matthew Bent, BSO said. Bent wanted revenge, investigators said, for a squabble over $40, a video game and a bicycle.

Prosecutors charged Jarvis, Mendez and Bent as adults with second-degree attempted murder. They remain in a Broward County jail.

Brewer was burned over 65 percent of his body. He was in the intensive care unit until last week, and doctors consider his condition guarded. He is likely to spend months in the hospital recovering.