UK & World News

  • 8 May 2013, 19:58

Utah Teen Charged Over Referee Punch Death

A teenager accused of punching a football referee who later died has been charged with homicide by assault.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced the charges had been brought and said he would seek to try the 17-year-old as an adult.

A homicide by assault charge is less serious than manslaughter. It is issued when an attack unintentionally causes death, and carries up to five years in prison for adults. Penalties can be less for juveniles.

Authorities say the teenager was playing in goal when 46-year-old Ricardo Portillo gave him a penalty for pushing an opposing player. The teenager began arguing with Mr Portillo and then struck him in the head.

Mr Portillo was taken to hospital in a reasonable condition but hours later he went into a coma. He never regained consciousness and died a week later.

The teenager has been in juvenile detention since April 27 when the incident occurred at a recreational league football match in a Salt Lake City suburb.

Mr Portillo, who leaves behind three daughters and four grandchildren, moved to Utah from Guadalajara, Mexico, 17 years ago. His remains are to be returned to his hometown.

Family members said Mr Portillo loved football, and had been working as a referee in different leagues for eight years.

His oldest daughter, Johana Portillo, said he had been attacked before by players, even having his legs and ribs broken.

His daughters begged him to quit but he said he could not give up his passion.