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Teen who allegedly punched soccer referee charged with homicide

The SportsXchange

The 17-year-old soccer player accused of punching a referee in a game that prosecutors believe eventually led to the man's death, was charged Wednesday with homicide, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

The teen, whose name is withheld because of his age, allegedly threw a single punch to the head of Ricardo Portillo, 46, who was officiating a match on April 27 at Eisenhower Junior High in Taylorsville, Utah.

In addition to the homicide charge, prosecutors are considering upgrading the charges from third-degree felony homicide by assault and possibly taking the case to an adult court, where the juvenile would then be charged as an adult.

"We're trying to balance between a youth who is close to being 18 (turns 18 in October) with the amount of harm that has been caused," said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. "You want to balance the status of that youth with the harm that has been caused and the loss that has been suffered by this community."

Currently, the youth could be held in detention until he was 21 years old if the case remains on the juvenile level. However, if charges are upgraded and he is tried as an adult, he could face a sentence up to five years in an adult prison.

Portillo died on May 4 in a Salt Lake City. He had been in a coma for nearly a week following the assault.

An autopsy determined Portillo died from a blow to the head that caused traumatic brain injury and internal bleeding within the skull, according to the charging documents.

"It was obviously a fatal hit," Gill said. "It was obviously a very aggressive hit that caused [this]."

The teen is a goalkeeper who was playing in his first game for La Liga Continental de Futbol team. After being arrested two days later after the alleged he attack, he remains in juvenile detention.

Police believe the youth was upset after being penalized by Portillo and struck him with a clenched fist to the jaw, according to witness reports. Portillo was writing the penalty in his notebook and likely did not see the punch coming. He fell to the ground, began vomiting blood and was taken to a hospital by medical personnel, where he lapsed into a coma.

Portillo was a native of Guadalajara, Mexico and had been in the U.S. as a legal alien for 17 years. He had volunteered as a referee for eight years, The Tribune reported.
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