Some of the kids charged with setting a teen on fire look even younger than their 13 and 15 years. And there can't be much doubt this is a tragedy for all families involved.
But it is impossible to get past the vicious intent behind the horrific burning of 15-year-old Michael Brewer of Deerfield Beach.
Four 15-year-olds and a 13-year-old are being held in juvenile detention after being charged in the blaze. If prosecutors decide some or all should be tried as adults, it would be hard to second-guess them since this crime is certainly horrifying enough to warrant it.
It is being called a retaliation crime, after Brewer allegedly borrowed $40 from defendant Matthew Bent, 15, didn't pay it back, and then called police when he saw Bent trying to steal Brewer's father's bike. An understandable, and not infrequent dispute. But what happened next, according to Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, is "one of the most heinous crimes I've ever seen."
The five accused boys found a bottle of rubbing alcohol as they entered the apartment complex pool area where Brewer lives. Investigators say Bent ordered Denver Jarvis to pour the alcohol on Brewer, allegedly saying "pour it on." Jesus Mendez, also 15, then took a lighter and flicked it at the drenched teen, according to investigators.
Brewer was burned on 80 percent of his body. Adding to the disturbing details, investigators say some of the teens charged laughed when confronted about the attack.
Brewer faces many months in ICU, with therapy and skin grafts. His life will never be the same, nor will it be for his family, or for the families of the teens charged in the attack. It is a heartbreaking reality for all those impacted.
Those charged are young, and look even younger. But this is a horrific crime that cries out for justice.
BOTTOM LINE: Justice a must in gruesome crime.