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Two 14-year-old Southern California boys who beat a fellow student in 2019, which ultimately caused his death, reportedly won’t go to jail, per the judges ruling. Instead, they must undergo anger management therapy. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Roger A. Luebs imposed the therapy as a probation condition before releasing the teenagers to their parents.
In Sept. 2019, the teenagers were videotaped attacking 13-year-old Diego Stolz outside classrooms in their Moreno Valley school, which is east of Los Angeles. One boy struck Diego in the head from behind and he fell, hitting his head against a pillar. The boys then continued punching him, who died nine days later from a brain injury.
The victim’s family sued the Moreno Valley Unified School District for wrongful death, alleging it failed to act after the assistant principal was told that the teenagers had been bullying the victims. As for the assailants, they entered the equivalent of guilty pleas in juvenile court to involuntary manslaughter and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury last fall, and spent 47 days in juvenile custody.
At their sentencing, the judge said psychological reports described the boys as lacking empathy and that they blamed the victim for the attack. And although Riverside County’s district attorney and Probation Department both reportedly wanted the two teens to serve more time, Luebs said the law required the least restrictive terms to promote rehabilitation. He said the two boys were “directly responsible” for Diego’s death even if they did not intend to kill him. Luebs also added that confining the teens to more time behind bars, with sophisticated and more mature criminals, would do more harm than good.
The judge reportedly acknowledged that his decision would not make everyone happy, even angering some people in the community. “I’m sorry there isn’t more I could do to address your loss,” he reportedly told members of Stolz’s family.
Luebs’ also scheduled a June 25 hearing to determine whether the teenagers’ families were complying with terms of their probation. This includes barring them from any contact with each other, requiring them to perform 150 hours of community service, undergoing therapy, enrolling in a character-building program, and writing an apology letter to the victim’s family. They also must stay off cellphones and social media — which the judge said the teenagers used to plan the assault.
Since the death, the district has reportedly changed its bullying reporting system and its training for assistant principals.