ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. - Reenie Brewer, grandmother of 17-year-old Michael Brewer, says the memories of Michael's attack are still fresh.
"Believe it or not, even after three years, it's still incredibly raw, when you really start thinking about everything that we saw, everything that we smelled," she said.
Not ready to tell his story himself, Reenie says Michael is more angry now than he's ever been as he continues to deal with physical and emotional wounds from the 2009 attack. He was doused with alcohol and set on fire by three of his classmates.
"There is a fear now, because if something like that can happen to you once, you always fear it can happen to you again," she explained.
The Brewer family has gotten closer since the attack, she says. Prayers and recognition for Michael's story have come from around the world, but the wounds are deep.
"He is angry, hurt, scared. He has a new set of fear perimeters that didn't exist before. When you grow up in a family that is pretty tight, you usually don't look behind you. And he will look behind him probably for the rest of his life," she said.
Two of Brewer's classmates have been sentenced for their roles in the attack. Denver Jarvis was sentenced to eight years in prison. Jesus Mendez was sentenced to eleven years. Matthew Bent was convicted Tuesday of aggravated battery and he will be sentenced July 23rd.
"He deserves to be held responsible. I believe that if he receives the maximum sentence, which is fifteen years, that will certainly be true," she said.
Now, Reenie says she regularly reminds her children, grand children and great-grandchildren that harboring anger is unhealthy.
"I think the adults in this family are trying hard to forgive because most of us can put ourselves in the seat of, what if that was my kid, I would want everybody to forgive him," she said.
Michael now attends a school where he is catching up on the classes he missed during recovery. He is planning to get his drivers license. In October, he turns eighteen.
While in therapy himself, Reenie says her grandson has helped younger burn victims in their recovery, something his grandmother says, is a testament to his strong and kind spirit.
"Something has to stop people from thinking it's alright to be mean to anybody else. For any reason," she said.
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