FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — As Matthew “Zeke” Bent awaited trial on charges that he plotted an attack in which a Florida middle school student was set on fire, he considered entering a plea of no contest to a charge of attempted second-degree murder. But his attorneys advised against it at the last minute, insisting he was not the instigator of the attack and never intended to hurt the 15-year-old victim.
On Tuesday, jurors in Bent’s trial convicted the 17-year-old of a lesser charge of aggravated battery. A conviction for aggravated battery carries a maximum of 15 years in prison, about half of what one for attempted second-degree murder brings.
Bent will be sentenced July 23. His lawyers say they plan to file an appeal.
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