Two teenagers who attacked their classmate, resulting in his death, have been sentenced to probation and released to their parents, a judge ruled on Friday.
In 2019, a 13-year-old boy died in the hospital after being punched during a fight at a Moreno Valley middle school in California, said Riverside County Sheriff’s Department officials.
The two boys who assaulted him admitted to involuntary manslaughter, ABC7 reported.
They will undergo therapy, participate in a character-building program, and will have to do community service for 150 hours, ruled Judge Roger Luebs.
The Riverside County district attorney and probation department wanted the two teens to be punished for a longer time, but Luebs said that it is called for by law to have the least restrictive periods of time to foster rehabilitation.
The judge further noted that incarcerating the teens who were “directly responsible” for Diego’s death for more time with mature and complex criminals would do more damage than good.
“The idea that they didn’t go to youth prison shouldn’t be seen as a slap on the wrist. Actually, they’re going to have a lot of work to do to have to eventually complete the probation, which probably won’t end until their 18th birthday,” said David Wohl, the defense attorney.
The attorneys for both of the teens didn’t agree with the judge’s assertion that they were lacking in remorse or empathy.
The boy, identified only as “Diego” by KTLA, was injured in the assault on Sept. 16, 2019, at Landmark Middle School.
After he was hospitalized in critical yet stable condition, Diego was “pronounced clinically dead last night as a result of injuries sustained in the attack,” officials said in a Facebook post.
A video that captured the incident showed the teen being hit in the face by one boy while the other sucker-punched him in the side of the head. Diego then fell and hit his head against a pillar, Fox6 reported.
The boy who hit Diego then rushed over to hit him on the ground, according to the report.
Classmates said that Diego was bullied in the past, adding that violence has been a problem at the school, the station reported.
The office said that further details about the incident won’t be released due to the age of the suspects.
“Violence in the communities served by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department will not be tolerated, especially involving our youth,” said the sheriff’s office, adding that people with information about the case should call Investigator Joshua Manjarrez at 951-955-2777 or Investigator John Tometich at 951-486-6700.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.