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Teen pleads guilty to homicide after punching referee

ESPN staff
August 6, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Patricia Cassell, a Salt Lake County deputy district attorney, speaks with reporters following the hearing © AP
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A teenager charged with killing a referee in Utah over a decision during a game pleaded guilty to a charge of homicide by assault.

The plea bargain was agreed as the judge prepared to hear testimony to decide if the 17-year-old suspect will be tried in juvenile or adult court. Under the deal, prosecutors agreed to keep the case in juvenile court.

Police say the teenager punched 46-year-old Ricardo Portillo once in the head on April 27 after the referee gave a foul against him. Portillo died after a week-long coma, leaving behind three daughters.

"I was frustrated at the ref and caused his death," the teenager said. His attorney described him as a "good kid and excellent student who made one, terrible mistake".

The prosecution said the accused and his father left the field after the incident despite being told to stay, before they even knew Portillo was in critical condition.

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