Utah ref Ricardo Portillo’s attacker is charged with homicide by assault, could receive 5 years in prison

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

On Saturday, the life of longtime Utah soccer referee Ricardo Portillo came to a tragically premature end, days after he was violently and cowardly punched in the head by a goaltender for a team in a game he was officiating. Now, the teen responsible for the referee’s death may find himself put behind bars for a number of years in connection with one shameful weak-minded moment.

Family and friends mourn Ricardo Portillo at his funeral Wednesday — Associated Press
Family and friends mourn Ricardo Portillo at his funeral Wednesday — Associated Press

As reported by the Associated Press and a variety of other Utah news outlets, the unnamed high school student who attacked Portillo will be charged with homicide by assault. The court-appointed prosecutor in the case, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, also insisted that the state will attempt to try the attacker as an adult. The teen will turn 18 in October, giving the court reasonable grounds to seek to charge him as an adult.

Should the 17-year-old be tried as an adult he would face a penalty of up to five years in prison if convicted.

While the charges facing the teen are significant, they could have been much worse as well. After much analysis, the court determined that they could not accurately expect to gain a conviction if they charged the goalie with murder or manslaughter.

For their part, those who have been most directly affected by this tragedy -- the Portillo family -- insist that they have no desires for vengeance against the teen, hoping only that the full criminal justice process be allowed to play out in full.

That may be just the latest, magnanimous, classy act by a family plunged into grief, It’s likely the family’s patience and understanding will be tested again before this entire episode concludes, but for now they will continue to focus on finding peace in the loss of their loved ones.

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