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Teen guilty over referee's death

A US teenager charged with killing a football referee during a game pleaded guilty on Monday in a case that brought new attention to the issue of violence in sport.

The plea deal was agreed between the teen's lawyers and prosecutors as the judge planned to hear evidence to decide if the 17-year-old suspect would be tried in juvenile or adult court.

Under the deal, prosecutors agreed to keep the case in juvenile court. A judge sentenced the teenager to juvenile prison, leaving how much time he will spend there to a juvenile parole board.

The maximum would be just over three years until he turns 21, but the parole board has the authority to let him out sooner, said Patricia Cassell, a Salt Lake County deputy district attorney.

Police say the teenager punched 46-year-old Ricardo Portillo once in the head on April 27 after the referee penalised him for a foul.

Mr Portillo died after he was in a coma for a week, leaving behind three daughters.

The teenager, whose name has been withheld due to his age, was charged with homicide by assault, a count issued when an attack unintentionally causes death.

"I was frustrated at the ref and caused his death," the teenager said, speaking softly, when Juvenile Court Judge Kimberly Hornak asked him what happened.

She ordered him to put up a picture of Mr Portillo in his cell and write his daughters a letter every week about how he is improving himself so that he is reminded constantly of the pain he caused the family.

Two of Mr Portillo's daughters spoke in court yesterday, telling the teenager that taking their father away has destroyed the family.


From Belfast Telegraph