Utah Teen Pleads Guilty To Killing Soccer Referee Ricardo Portillo In Game

| by Sylvan Lane
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A 17-year-old Utah soccer player has pleaded guilty to the murder of Ricardo Portillo, a 46-year-old soccer referee who was killed when the player, who has not been named, punched him in the head after Portillo gave him a yellow card, according to CNN.

Judge Kimberly Hornak, who recommended a sentence of three years in juvenile jail, ordered the soccer player to keep a picture of Portillo in his phone for the extent of his imprisonment, and to write weekly letters to Portillo’s family about the steps he is taking to improve his life and return to normal.

"The death of someone is the most serious crime," Hornak told the teen, according to The San Jose Mercury News. "[Portillo’s] only crime was being present to take part in an act of community service. In one moment of rage, you took away his life. You changed the life of all his daughters. You changed your life and the life of your family."

According to CNN, Portillo was officiating a game for the Fut International league, a youth soccer league for Hispanic youth ages 5-17, in the Salt Lake City suburb of Taylorsville. When Portillo gave the player a yellow card for an unspecified infraction, the player turned around and punched Portillo in the face. Portillo suffered severe internal head injuries as a result of the punch, spent seven days in critical condition and died from his injuries in the hospital.

Portillo had three daughters and three grandchildren who live Mexico, from where he moved to the United States 16 years ago.

"I just need time to heal. It's a lot of pain that this kid caused my whole family, especially my sisters and I," Johana Portillo, his daughter, told CNN in May. "I will forgive this kid because it's only in God's hands. ... But right now, it's too soon for me to forgive."

Sources: CNN, The San Jose Mercury News