Charges have been upgraded against two teens accused in the brutal, caught-on-video attack of a 13-year-old classmate at a Moreno Valley middle school following the student’s death, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The two 13-year-old boys, who have not been identified due to their ages, have each been charged with a count of voluntary manslaughter, according to John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
The charges are on top of counts of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.
The initial juvenile petitions were filed on Sept. 18, prior to the teen’s death. Prosecutors added the manslaughter charge on Sept. 30, according to Hall.
One of the defendants was due in court Wednesday morning, while the other is scheduled to appear on Oct. 15, Hall said.
Both students were arrested after allegedly assaulting the victim, identified only as 13-year-old Diego, on the campus of Landmark Middle School on Sept. 16, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Cellphone video showed the victim was struck in the face by one boy before he was sucker punched to the side of his head by another. The second hit caused him to fall and violently hit his head against a nearby pillar, according to the footage.
Diego was hospitalized for more than a week before he was pronounced “clinically dead.” His family had planned to donate his organs, sheriff’s officials said.
Classmates told KTLA that Diego had been bullied prior before the fatal assault.
Students and parents say bullying within the Moreno Valley Unified School District has been a problem for some time; after Diego’s death they expressed frustration and anger that officials have done little to curb or prevent it from happening.
At a meeting on Sept. 19, the district said it hired behavior specialists, and would also work more with mental health experts and services.
KTLA’s Dianne Sanchez contributed to this story.