Teen Charged With Homicide After Death Of Soccer Referee
The 17-year-old soccer goalie who allegedly punched and killed a referee during a game in Utah last month faces a charge of "homicide by assault" and may be tried as an adult.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill sought the charge in a petition filed with a juvenile court Wednesday. Gill is also seeking to have the unidentified suspect certified as an adult.
The case is now in the hands of a juvenile court, as the suspected assailant is under 18. He was arrested and placed in juvenile detention two days after the April 27 attack, which occurred during a recreational soccer match.
Witnesses and a police report say the goalie punched referee Ricardo Portillo, 46, in the head after being cited with a yellow card warning for rough play. Initially, Portillo did not seem seriously hurt. But he was rushed to a hospital after collapsing and spitting up blood.
Portillo lapsed into a coma; he died Saturday. His physicians said Portillo had suffered a traumatic head injury.
A public viewing and funeral mass for Portillo are scheduled for Wednesday afternoon and evening. His family says he will be buried in Mexico.
In Utah, "homicide by assault" is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison if the person charged is tried and convicted as an adult. If a juvenile court retains jurisdiction, it can apply a lesser sentence.
The homicide charge applies when prosecutors believe that an attacker used unlawful or violent force to cause bodily injury but did not intend to kill the victim.
"The District Attorney's Office respects and honors the integrity of the criminal and juvenile justice systems and will prosecute the case to the fullest extent of the law within the parameters of the justice systems," Gill said in a written statement. He declined to respond to questions, citing the confidentiality of the juvenile justice process.