Moreno Valley teens who beat Diego Stolz to death plead guilty involuntary manslaughter with a judge sentencing them only to community service and probation.
A preventable death? Two California teenagers who admitted to beating their classmate to death have been sentenced to community service and probation.
In September 2019, the teens attacked 13-year-old Diego Stolz in the yard of Landmark Middle School.
Cellphone video showed Stolz being punched repeatedly before falling and hitting his head on a pillar.
The 14-year-olds, whose names have not been identified, ‘made admissions’ to charges of involuntary manslaughter. The boys had originally faced a voluntarily manslaughter charge before pleading guilty to the lesser charge.
Attorneys for both teenagers said they were remorseful, the Press-Enterprise reported.
‘I know that my decision will not make everyone happy’
On Friday, they were released back into the custody of their parents.
A judge ruled on Friday that the pair will have to undergo 150 hours of community service, enroll in therapy and attend a character-building program.
‘These kids have not had enough experience delivering empathy. You guys are not the center of the world and you guys need to start figuring that out,’ Riverside County Superior Court Judge Roger A Luebs said during the ruling.
Nevertheless, Luebs rejected the Probation Department’s recommendation for jail time.
The defendants each spent 47 days in juvenile hall and Luebs said he felt locking them up with adult criminals would be harmful, according to KABC.
Luebs said he was required by law to sentence juveniles in the least restrictive manner that will result in both rehabilitation and public safety.
‘I know that my decision will not make everyone happy. In fact, it will probably make some people in the community angry,’ the judge said.
The two teenagers continued to punch him as victim laid unconscious
‘I’m sorry there isn’t more I could do to address your loss,’ he told members of Stolz’s family.
The boys are due back in Juvenile Court on June 25 for a progress report and were warned that if they didn’t comply with the terms of their probation, they would be sent back to juvenile hall.
Cellphone video filmed by another student captured the teenagers punching Stolz repeatedly, reported the Press-Enterprise.
One of the teens hit Stolz in the head from behind, causing to fall and hit his head against a pillar, losing consciousness.
Despite Stolz lying on the ground unmoving, the two teenagers continued to punch him.
The beaten boy never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead nine days later.
Stolz’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his attackers and against the Moreno Valley Unified School District.
They claimed that Landmark’s Assistant Principal Kamilah O’Connor was told days before the incident that the boys were bullying Stolz, only for the school to fail to act.
The family claims O’Connor promised to suspend the boys but they were at school on the day of the attack.
A month and a half after the beating took place, O’Connor and Principal Scott Walker were replaced.
At a hearing on March 9, Stolz’s aunt, Juana Salcedo, who raised him after he was orphaned, read an impact statement in court, reported the Press-Enterprise.
She said she feels like school administrators let him down and that she had taught her nephew not to fight back.
‘It’s difficult to put into words many emotions and the pain in my heart,’ she said, through a translator.
‘I will continue to fight for my son. I wouldn’t have allowed my son to beat up somebody else.’
Since Stolz’s death, the Moreno Valley Unified School District has changed how it responds to reports of bullying, according to the Press-Enterprise.
Administrators are now accountable to follow through on reports and assistant principals – who are in charge of student discipline – have to undergo a new training program.