Utah teen pleads guilty following death of soccer referee

A Utah teenager accused of killing soccer referee Ricardo Portillo in May pleaded guilty on a charge of homicide by assault on Monday, the Associated Press reported. 

The 17-year-old’s legal council reached a plea deal with prosecutors, which would keep the case in juvenile court. The judge sentenced him to juvenile prison, but left the exact duration up to the parole board. He could spend a maximum of just over three years in juvenile prison, but could be let out earlier at the discretion of the parole board, a Salt Lake County district attorney said.

Police say that the teenager punched Portillo, a recreation-level referee, once in the head after Portillo issued a yellow card to the player following a foul. Portillo, 46, went into a coma and eventually died just over a week after the assault on April 27.

“I was frustrated at the ref and caused his death,” the teen said to Juvenile Court Judge Kimberly Hornak.

One of the provisions of the deal is that the teenager must keep a picture of Portillo in his cell and write one letter a week to Portillo’s three daughters about how he is progressing.

“I don’t think you’ll ever understand how much pain and suffering you made us go through,” Ana Portillo, 21, said on Monday to the teenager. “We just wish you had taken a deep breath before you did what you did.” 

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