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Final teen defendant in Deerfield burning goes to trial

When a Florida resident is accused of committing a violent crime, the case is likely to go to trial. One recent series of linked cases in Broward County has gotten a lot of media attention, and we previously discussed the accusations in question as they relate to juvenile law.

Two boys, 17 and 18, have already pleaded guilty and were sentenced for their roles in a 2009 incident in Deerfield Beach. The third and last defendant, a boy who is now 17, is charged with second-degree murder, and his trial recently started.

The case centers on an incident in which a boy, 15 years old at the time, was severely burned. According to prosecutors, the boy owed the current defendant $40 for a video game. The prosecution contends that the defendant encouraged one of his friends to pour rubbing alcohol on the victim. The defendant is also accused of ordering another friend to flick a match, setting the then 15-year-old ablaze. The victim survived but reportedly suffered burns on over 65 percent of his body.

The main issue at trial regards the defendant's intent at the time of the burning. The defense claims that he never intended to burn his classmate, but only wanted to scare him and convince him to pay the debt.

However, the prosecution takes the view that the boy now on trial was fully aware of the consequences when he ordered his friends to act. How the prosecution intends to prove that claim remains unclear.

The other two friends have already accepted plea bargains and are now preparing to testify in favor of the prosecution. If convicted, the current defendant could face up to 30 years in prison. For parents with children who are accused of a crime, all three of these boys' cases may shed light on the importance of making every effort to keep charges against minors within the juvenile justice system and out of the criminal justice system.

Source: The Miami Herald, "Trial opens for last defendant in Michael Brewer burning case," Daniel Chang, June 12, 2012

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Andrew M. Coffey has been recognized as a Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer by the Florida Bar. Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida.

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