D.A. weighing criminal charges against teen soccer player

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  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    May 8, 2013 12:37 p.m.

    This is one of those things that turns the stomach. I doubt the 17 year old intended to kill the ref, and I can't imagine the anguish being suffered by the family of the man who lost his life in such a pointless situation.

    What is also disturbing is how little regard is shown lately by so many. Our society is aimed at eliminating personal responsibility as much as possible. My heart goes out to the kid, but perhaps we would see fewer of these incidents if we began to restore a sense of personal responsibility and the understanding that there are consequences for actions - large and small. There is a reason why we keep our tempers under control, why we don't speed, why we don't bully others.

  • EnosEugenius Shenandoah, IA
    May 8, 2013 9:17 a.m.

    (cont'd) You can't compromise on justice and still call it justice; and there is no real mercy if the ends of justice are even partially met. The judge is not Jesus Christ applying the atonement. 6) In addition to a more appropriate criminal charge, the prosecutor and the court also have a variety of sentencing options. Already built into the system, they will look at the kid's history, whether or not he was under the influence of drugs, his actual intent (as best they can figure that out from the circumstances), his mental capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions, and on and on, when they decide what kind of sentence to give him. Please, good people, remember: a) he took someone's life, and there is nothing he can do to provide adequate restitution for that; but b) he didn't intend to kill the man, so this isn't murder, maybe not even manslaughter. Killing with a single punch can happen, but no one reasonably expects it to. Mercy is already built into the system, to the extent that justice is very fact specific; we don't need any more added on.

  • EnosEugenius Shenandoah, IA
    May 8, 2013 9:00 a.m.

    A few misconceptions rampant in the postings: 1) Everyone is acting like this is a choice between giving the kid probation and life in prison. The kid isn't being charged with murder. The sentence for the actual charge is already set to actually punish and deter appropriately for what he actually did; and that's NOT murder. 2) People assume that the prison systems produce hardened criminals because they appear to be thinking about prisons from 300 years ago. 3) Similarly, that this is a "punishment" -- every state calls their prison system the "Department of CORRECTIONS" now, for a reason: the focus is on correcting and rehabilitating, rather than shoving someone in some dark hole for however many years their sentence is. He will take classes that help him learn and change his assaultive tendencies, etc. 4) He isn't a "boy" -- and he isn't a "man". But the kid is 17, not 12; so quit using his youth to make excuses for him. 5) Too many people are throwing around the terms "justice and mercy" as if they both can be had. These are two opposing ends. We cannot have both justice for the victim and mercy for the accused.

  • sg newhall, CA
    May 7, 2013 3:10 p.m.

    A tragedy. My question, was he and his family here as legal immigrants or illegal aliens?

  • silverbear Goshen, UT
    May 7, 2013 3:09 p.m.

    awhen anyone commits a violent crime against another person espcially resulting in death, We as a society need to punish the offender and punish hard. if this kid gets away with murder whats to stop other youth from killing a ref or coach or each other because of a bad call or losing a game. If the offender is old enough to beat a ref to death he is old enough to go the point of the mountain.

  • idablu Idaho Falls, ID
    May 7, 2013 1:39 p.m.

    So this is like the 3rd time that Mr Portillo had been assaulted in the capacity as an official in soccer. I can think of several other instances where soccer officials have been threatened or punched in older youth soccer leagues. And in other countries where soccer is taken more seriously, officials put their lives in danger every time they step onto the field, particularly in the pro ranks.

    On the other hand I can think of only one or two instances where an official has been assaulted at any level in basketball, football, or just about any other sport (sure, they get berated, but VERY RARELY assaulted). So what is it about soccer that brings out the worst in people?

  • idablu Idaho Falls, ID
    May 7, 2013 1:23 p.m.

    I have noticed that all your comments are about showing compassion and mercy to the kid--the assailant who beat a man to death, and not a word about sorrow for the family and the devastation this kid caused.
    You also say that he would never do this again. How could you possibly know that? And do you know for a fact that he hasn't assaulted others prior to this incident?

    I agree with the approach of the DA on this. If this kid has a history of violent behavior or run-ins with the law, then he should be tried to the full extent of the law. If there are no priors or no history of other altercations, then leniency would be in order.

    I don't think that MormonSean understands that Justice serves a very important purpose in rehabilitation. If you want him to develop into a good citizen, then let him take responsibility for his actions and suffer consequences. I have seen way to many kids who continue to make the same mistakes over and over again because they are never held accountable in a significant way by their family or society.

  • LDS Cedar City, UT
    May 7, 2013 1:15 p.m.

    This is a true tragedy, with an innocent victim dying from an attack by an impulsive young adult. Only God can rectify this horrible event.

    The family is going through extreme grief and pain. They need what only God can provide: peace and the knowledge that their loved one is in His care. May they be surrounded by family, friends and God's Love.

    The young adult surely did not mean to cause serious harm or death. He was obviously overcome by the emotions intense sports bring out in serious athletes. Hopefully the judicial system will recognize his poor judgement, impulsive reactions and lack of desire to cause serious harm. He faces a life of guilt and sorrow. Hopefully he can use this nightmare to change himself and reach out to those in pain. His life can become an inspiring turn-around for all of us that at times fly off the handle over insignificant things.

  • MormonSean Salt Lake City, UT
    May 7, 2013 1:11 p.m.


    I am at a loss of words in response to your comment. I tried writing something very cordial. Then I tried writing something very direct. In either case I believe anything I say will offend you. If that is the case please know that your feedback on my beliefs and how I express them is not welcome. I do not wish to discuss the meaning of the word "blasphemy" to you.

    My primary reasons for replying to you:

    1, to respectfully say that my intention was not to offend you or anyone. Though my intentions probably don't matter to you. At very least, I know they matter to God.

    2, to show my respect for President Hinckley and every other prophet and apostle. I believe they are amazing men who serve more than I could ever live up to. They inspire me and others. They frequently quote and they are frequently quoted. So again, blasphemy was not my intention.

    I do have a question I would ask you not to argue with me, but simply to consider: If President Hinckley's words are not appropriate here, how were they in the original talk?

  • Rick2009 MESA, AZ
    May 7, 2013 12:25 p.m.

    Unfortunately Sports is like most other activities or professions. Not that all people who participate are evil because I feel its only a few that are in each area(maybe politicians are more rather than less). But they are the ones who cause the rest of us to lose our freedoms. Mercy and justice in this case ...umm... well maybe . But who is going to take care of the family now and give love to the daughters and wife.

    We have become a society where cheating is ok as long as we don't get caught whether it's BYU, or elsewhere. We are only dooming ourselves with the attitudes and mores we have adopted over the last 50-60 years.

  • DEW Cougars Sandy, UT
    May 7, 2013 10:15 a.m.

    All we can do now and wait. But, whatever the outcome on this 17 year old boy (yes I said "boy") he will suffer forever in remembering his mistakes with unthinkable death of Riccardo. You just never know what might go wrong to other people lives (physical and mental).

  • Beaver Native Garland, UT
    May 7, 2013 9:54 a.m.

    JWB: Agreed. If the league is not emphasizing sportsmanlike conduct and this behavior is somewhat condoned, I would hope a suit would be brought against the league and force them to close. It would send a message to other leagues that they need to emphasize sportsmanship. As for the youth in this particular league, I imagine there would be more appropriate leagues they could join.

  • MormonSean Salt Lake City, UT
    May 7, 2013 9:52 a.m.


    You argued that showing mercy to the boy shows no mercy to the victim. But the victim needs no mercy as they have not committed a crime. Mercy is the wrong word.

    But I do understand your point. You want to prevent future crimes. I'm in complete agreement on that. I also believe this boy is not likely to do this again. Don't you? If not, then why? Because this tragedy is not expected typically, the burden of proof is on us and the justice demands that the boy receive the benefit of the doubt. The burden of proof demands that we credit him as "not intending this to happen" unless proven otherwise.

    So unless this kid has been on some sort of killing spree, where is your claim? Sports get people angry on an impulse. It was not a premeditated act, so you ought not treat it like one.

    It was an act that is likely not to be repeated. Hardening the boy in an adult prison increases the odds of him accepting poor behavior. As the juvenile court is more 'counseling for youth', it will serve to help him change.

    What do you want?

  • uwishtoo MESA, AZ
    May 7, 2013 9:39 a.m.


    Really? The "boy" / man deserves to be locked up PERIOD end of discussion. No mercy, no leniency, none. His actions KILLED someone.

  • Beaver Native Garland, UT
    May 7, 2013 9:36 a.m.

    My heart goes out to Portillo's family. What a horrible tragedy!

    As to what punishment the young man should receive, I'll leave that decision to those who have more experience in these matters and more information on the young man's history. Courts should concentrate on rehabilitation and prevention of recurrence, not on retribution. Retribution could lead to becoming a hardened criminal. For some youth, the guilt of realizing what they have done, along with some anger management skills, will be enough to prevent them from hurting others in the future. If this is the case, the focus should be on anger management. Putting the young man away with hardened youth could create the wrong influences and friendships and turn him to a path of crime. On the other hand, if the young man has a history of violence and criminal activity, trying him as an adult and removing him from society may be appropriate.

    I hope that the courts will be able to discern what steps are necessary to rehabilitate and prevent recidivism and will act accordingly. As for the rest of us, compassion, love and forgiveness are the order of the day.

  • Midvaliean MIDVALE, UT
    May 7, 2013 9:04 a.m.

    Wouldn't it be nice if sportsmanship was taught. Playing a hard game and being a good opponent can be as rewarding as winning. Although winning is undoubtedly the ultimate goal, how you get there is VERY important. Lance Armstrong and many others can testify that falling from grace sucks.
    Being a good sport and being an honorable opponent is what needs to be taught at a young age. So the culture of sports can change.

  • Shimlau SAINT GEORGE, UT
    May 7, 2013 8:32 a.m.

    rfpeterlin; Blasphemy? I seriously doubt it. not according to the definition of blasphemy.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    May 7, 2013 7:48 a.m.

    It appears this league has had a history of violence as this same referee has had multiple attacks and not just the ones where he was injured. The league has responsibility in ensuring that the game is as safe as possible as soccer can be. It is really a non-contact sport and should not have very many abuses with players and definitely with referees. The lady who had the rock dropped on her car was still alive even though seriously injured. The Portillo family isn't that fortunate. I have seen two countries go to war over a soccer game. This may be a learning experience, and if this is within DA Gill's area, he has plenty experience on determining cases with WVC very recently. The system should work and even though not perfect, hopefully, the League will be a part of that process. Coaches, families, players, and spectators all have a part in ensuring violence is not on the field. Players for years have been given yellow or red cards for their actions. This player didn't get the black card for his actions but there is a price for what grief/pain he caused Mr. Portillo.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    May 7, 2013 7:40 a.m.

    The last thing this youth needs is to be made to feel like he's being victimized by the Justice system by having to face the consequences of his actions.

    I agree in Mercy, but it's a troubling crime. A life was lost. How many murders do people get before we apply the law?

    So he couldn't control his temper--what evidence do we have that if mercy is shown, that he will be able to live out the rest of his life never again being violent?

  • Midvaliean MIDVALE, UT
    May 7, 2013 7:34 a.m.

    I'm torn on this one. This kid's violent actions removed a father figure from a home with 3 kids, he removed a breadwinner, making the family's future endeavors that much harder. He has no idea what he did because he cannot fathom what that means, to be a father of 3.
    Hitting the referee is probably one of the most taboo things you can do on the field. This isn't the actions of a naive innocent boy. It's the actions of someone who is willing to break one of the most important rules in the game.
    Justice for the family will never be attained to satisfaction, the sin is unforgivable. What thoughtless actions.
    On that same note, it seems a shame to ruin two lives. This young boy and his inability to see the consequences of hitting an old man will now haunt him for a long time, probably in prison.
    @rfpeterlin, as for blasphemy, I doubt President Hinckley would even agree with you one bit about that, you are entitled to you opinion, but his writings are there for all to read and use as they are prompted to do so.

  • rfpeterlin Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 7, 2013 7:20 a.m.


    Here is where the "what if's" are gonna undermine this situation. Justice, she is blind, and for a reason. What is wrong with our society is not the laws and those enforcing the laws, but the people who feel that the laws do not apply to them or those like them. The debate is not about conservatism or liberalism, but the application of the law. And I quote, "the unlawful taking of another's life". If that happened, then he needs to be convicted of that crime. If you disagree with that outcome, change the law!

    The issue here is that too many people are not afforded the right to suffer the consequences of their behavior. We want to control bullying and we want to protect our families, but we do not want to do what is necessary to do so.

    Lastly, quoting the prophet is blasphemy. President Hinckley also spoke about personal responsibility on more than one occasion. My heart goes out to the both families.

  • kosimov Riverdale, UT
    May 7, 2013 7:14 a.m.

    Sorry if I am saying too much about myself here, but, this is an issue I feel very passionately is a big problem in our society, even in the Church’s athletic programs which are established for good and honorable purposes, and generally run by good people.
    I recall that in basketball classes I took at BYU way, way back when, I was ridiculed by the coach when I complained privately that his teaching methods were encouraging cheating and violence, but the instructor just chewed me out in front of the class for "being a cry baby", and other things, referring to efforts others were making to clean up the program with disdain, and continued to teach the kids how to do things which were wrong, and especially, how to get away with them. Coincidently, the kind of play he taught resulted in a rather serious cut under my chin which needed quite a few stitches, that very day. It didn't seem to affect him at all. I wonder how many other coaches and teachers teach like that, and if their teaching has an effect on young men which results in tragedies like this one.

  • kosimov Riverdale, UT
    May 7, 2013 7:10 a.m.

    I have long had concerns about attitudes in athletics. I've often heard announcers praise an athlete who can cheat, and that athletes should learn how to break the rules without getting caught. I haven't heard this on sleazy shows, but on mainstream shows such as BYU TV, KUTV, and of course, professional sports. I had personal experience with this when I was younger, which caused me to give up on sports entirely.

    I had always wanted my four sons to participate in athletics as they went through school, but I eventually stopped encouraging them as I noticed problems like this and others become epidemic. In fact, one son was a great soccer player, but he chose to leave the game for similar reasons. He decided to officiate games, and he came to enjoy them in spite of the disrespect and threats he received when he tried to do a good job. He finally quit that as well, because a player's FATHER had threatened him so violently, my son decided it just wasn't worth it.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 7, 2013 6:27 a.m.

    Ah the cries of "bleeding heart liberal".... from the conservative crowd... like being called that should be offensive. Me, I am a bleeding heart moderate. Not ashamed of it at all, and here is why. In this life, our ability to extract "justice" is extremely limited. I worry about this kid going into a gang infested environment, and coming out worse than he went in. But his actions can't be ignored, and a price must be paid.

    At the extreme, taking one life for the loss of another life doesn't restore anything to the victim. On the other hand, probation for someone who kills another in an auto accident doesn't come close to justice either. This case lies somewhere in between. Striking the ref was not an accident... it was an overt act. On the other hand, it would be hard to argue the kid intended to kill. Getting "justice" right here is nearly impossible.

    That is why I have complete faith in the Lords judgement. In this earthly existence, we do our best to serve justice, but will always come up short. We have to have faith in the ultimate judgement to make things right.

  • FatMan86 West Jordan, UT
    May 6, 2013 11:06 p.m.

    The bottom line here is that the culture of youth sports must be fixed. There can be no tolerance for egregious behaviors that are unsportsmanlike. The death of this referee is such a senseless tragedy.

  • Sal Provo, UT
    May 6, 2013 9:16 p.m.

    Notice we call the assailant a 'boy' when we hope for mercy. He's definitely a boy when it comes to emotional control but a man when it comes to physical muscle.

    I would still hate to see him enter the prison system. Perhaps he could be required to earn a degree in a high-paying career then have his wages garnered and given to the victim's family and for the rest of his life.

  • Owl Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2013 8:31 p.m.

    Mercy and forgiveness are individual virtues. Justice will hopefully result from the judicial system. Both can work simultaneously, but don't confuse the two.

  • just-a-fan Bountiful, UT
    May 6, 2013 8:22 p.m.

    The ref's family should be allowed to have serious in put on the decision of the DA. This is just a massive tragedy.

  • higv Dietrich, ID
    May 6, 2013 8:02 p.m.

    How much violence is there in HS sports though? If you physically assault an official you can no longer play sports on the High School team. Some skirmishes happen but most of the players play the game let coaches and officials do there jobs. An official is a thankless job as someone is mad at you. Some of my favorite memories were playing High School sports. I attended the State Tournament and before and after the game seeing players hug there teammates and even some cases opponents. Many of the Athletes are better citizens. That person that assaulted a player and volunteer now he was not kind. No one deserves to be hit since you disagree with the call.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 6, 2013 7:50 p.m.

    Re: "I would hope we want justice to uplift rather than inflict vengeance."

    We all hope the same.

    But, it's not merciful, to malefactors, or their future victims, to release them with too lenient a penalty. It permits, even enables predation directed toward future victims.

    Burden's on this young tough to demonstrate he's not a danger, that he deserves extraordinary leniency. Courts'll examine his record for previous crime, any reproach he feels for current actions, and his motivation to avoid the occasion to fail again.

    It doesn't look good for him so far. He appears to have no champions among those that know him. Only naive liberal bleeding hearts, inexperienced with this and other criminals, have so far come forward to demand leniency.

    The enormity of his crime, not just the horrendous result, suggests this miscreant is not an ingenue. Time will tell, of course, but I believe jails are full of his type. And, permitting him to avoid a lengthy sentence of his own would send precisely the wrong message to others similarly situated.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    May 6, 2013 7:23 p.m.

    If the young man has a clean record and his behavior is uncharacteristic of past behavior, then he should be tried as a juvenile. But, if what he did is part of a pattern of violent behavior, then perhaps it would be best for him and for the safety of society if he is tried as an adult.

    I worry about the violence in sports. My grandson (10 years old) has been asked to play in a better soccer league because he is very good. But I don't know if he should. It seems that the more involved a young man is in sports, the greater the chance he will be corrupted by participation. To say nothing about permanent injury.

    I think all of society would be a lot better off if the public schools did not sponsor athletics. Inter-mural sports could involve a lot more students, they are safer and perhaps the students involved would learn good sportsmanship rather than violence and cheating.

  • Elcapitan Ivins, UT
    May 6, 2013 6:39 p.m.

    Prisons and jails are full of people who act impulsively, giving no thought to the consequences of their actions and choices. Impulsivity is a very negative character trait full of danger and destgruction. Weigh carefully the results of an impulsive act. Stop and think things out. What happens in seconds could influence your future life for years.

    Murder, theft, assault, rape, angry words, thoughtless behavior all have eternal negative conseqauences.

  • BYR Woods Cross, UT
    May 6, 2013 6:14 p.m.

    I agree Sean. Well said.

  • MormonSean Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2013 5:44 p.m.

    I guess along with that quote I should explain myself before everyone criticizes me again.

    I have followed this case carefully and will continue to follow the DA and judge. I hope and pray they show mercy in their application of justice.

    I would hope we want justice to uplift rather than inflict vengeance. Justice can in fact served to help the sinner. My opinion is unpopular. Its critics say I am seeking to deny justice; that is a lie.

    Wishing to help the boy in juvenile court serves both justice, and mercy for helping the boy rather than breaking him. I will not cast stones at him. That isn't a crime. I want justice AND I want the boy to have a hopeful future. Those who demand only the first and reject the latter want vengeance, not justice.

    Justice isn't about inflicting something in return. It's about teaching people to live upright. The juvenile court will do that. The court for adults will not. An adult prison will not. I don't want to harden the boy. I want to help him. That is not wrong or unjust. It's both compassionate and just.

  • MormonSean Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2013 5:23 p.m.

    President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

    "There are hardened criminals who may have to be locked up. There are unspeakable crimes, such as deliberate murder and rape, that justify harsh penalties. But there are some who could be saved from long, stultifying years in prison because of an unthoughtful, foolish act. Somehow forgiveness, with love and tolerance, accomplishes miracles that can happen in no other way."

    I guess I'm praying for a miracle.