Teen Who Punched Ref Charged With Homicide by Assault, Still in Juvenile Detention

The Utah teenager who is accused of punching a soccer referee in the head during a game was charged with homicide by assault after the official died over the weekend.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced the charges on Wednesday, and this particular charge is issued when an attack unintentionally causes death. The charge is less serious than manslaughter and can carry a five-year prison sentence for adults, but penalties can be less for juveniles.

The 17-year-old has been in juvenile detention since April 27 and the district attorney's office said it would attempt to try the teen as an adult.

The incident occurred during a recreational soccer league match in suburb outside Salt Lake City.

Authorities say the teen was playing goalie during at youth match at Eisenhower Junior High School in Taylorville. 46-year-old Ricardo Portillo reportedly saw the goalkeeper pushing another player and issued a "Yellow Card." However, soon after, the outraged teen punched him on his head as he was jotting down notes in his notebook.

Soon after, the referee reportedly started to vomit blood after feeling dizzy, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

When paramedics arrived, they initially did not believe that his injures were serious. However, his condition reportedly got worse after he was transported to a hospital.

According to Officer Jason Huggard, the referee was laying on the ground in a fetal position.

"Ricardo was complaining of pain in his face, back and [of] being nauseated. ... He had spit up a small amount of blood in his saliva," the officer said.

The teen's name has not been revealed because he is still a minor. Results from an autopsy are pending.

Portillo's devastated family said he had loved soccer even though there was the risk of violence from the players.

"It was his passion," said Johana, Portillo's daughter. "We could not tell him no."