Juvenile Justice

Teen goalie is charged with homicide by assault in ref's death

A 17-year-old goalie from Utah has been charged with third-degree felony homicide by assault after he was accused of punching a volunteer soccer referee who later died.

Salt Lake County prosecutors are seeking to move the case into adult court, report the New York Times and the Salt Lake Tribune. The youth has been in juvenile custody since the April 27 recreational league game played in the Salt Lake City suburb of Taylorsville.

Police say the 17-year-old soccer player punched referee Ricardo Portillo in the head after the youth received a warning from the ref for pushing an opponent. Portillo, 46, lapsed into a coma and died last Saturday, when he was taken off life support.

The charge carries a sentence of up to five years in prison in adult court. The youth has not faced any juvenile charges before, officials said.

Portillo’s daughter, Johana, said her father had been attacked by players twice before when refereeing soccer matches, and he suffered broken ribs and legs, according to prior coverage. She said she hopes her father’s death leads to better security at sporting events and better self-control by players.

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