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Teen charged in soccer ref’s death in court

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A judge is deciding if a teen accused of punching a soccer referee in the head, ultimately killing him, will face trial as a juvenile -- or an adult.

The 17-year-old boy, charged with a third-degree felony homicide by assault, appeared in court Monday for the start of a certification hearing. In a last-minute move, attorneys for the boy stipulated with prosecutors that a violent crime had occurred.

Judge Kimberly Hornak is now tasked with deciding if the teen should be tried as an adult, or remain in the jurisdiction of the juvenile court system. If the teen is certified as an adult, he's looking at five years in prison if convicted. If the case stays in the juvenile courts, the teen could be confined until he's 21.

The boy is accused of punching Ricardo Portillo after the referee issued the boy a yellow card in a game. That punch put Portillo in a coma, and he died a few days later.

Judge Hornak granted a request by FOX 13 for a camera to be present during the proceedings. She barred mention of his name or his image, but allowed videotaping of some of the hearing itself, where victim witnesses will testify.

The courtroom will be closed to the public when witnesses testify about the teen's psychological, social history.

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