Teen charged in ref's death

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A juvenile court judge began hearing testimony Monday to decide if a Utah teenager accused of killing a soccer referee with a single punch will be tried in juvenile or adult court.

The hearing was closed to the media and public to protect details of the 17-year-old’s social and psychological background from coming out. The Associated Press is withholding his name because he’s a minor.

The teenager is charged with homicide by assault, a count issued when an attack unintentionally causes death. Prosecutors want to try him as an adult.

Police say the teenager punched 46-year-old Ricardo Portillo once in the head on April 27 after Portillo called a foul on him in a soccer game. Portillo died after a weeklong coma, leaving behind three daughters.

On Friday, the teen’s attorney, Monte Sleight acknowledged there is probable cause the teen committed the crime in a private meeting with prosecutors and Juvenile Court Judge Kimberly Hornak, court records show.

Prosecutors want the boy tried as an adult due to seriousness of what happened and because he’s set to turn 18 in less than three months. At a previous hearing in which the defense asked that the boy be allowed to go home to his family as the case progresses, prosecutors said the teen and his family are a flight risk.

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