Two 14-year-old Southern California boys who beat a fellow student in 2019, causing his death, won’t go to jail but must undergo anger management therapy, a judge ruled.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Roger A. Luebs imposed the therapy as a probation condition before releasing the teenagers to their parents on Thursday, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported Friday.
On Sept. 16, 2019, the teenagers were videotaped attacking 13-year-old Diego Stolz outside classrooms at Landmark Middle School in Moreno Valley, east of Los Angeles. One boy struck the teenager in the head from behind and he fell, hitting his head against a pillar. The boys then continued punching the boy, who died nine days later from a brain injury.
Last fall, the boys entered the equivalent of guilty pleas in juvenile court to involuntary manslaughter and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury. They spent 47 days in juvenile custody.
At their sentencing, the judge said psychological reports described the boys as lacking empathy and said they blamed the victim for the attack.
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.
“I’m sorry there isn’t more I could do to address your loss,” he told members of Stolz’s family.
Attorneys for both teenagers said they were remorseful, the Press-Enterprise reported.
Stolz’s family members declined to comment on the sentences, the paper said.
The judge also scheduled a June 25 hearing to determine whether the teenagers’ families were complying with terms of their probation, which bar them from any contact with each other, require them to perform community service and to write an apology letter to the victim’s family.
They also must stay off cellphones and social media, which Luebs said the teenagers used to plan the assault.
Stolz’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.
Since the death, the district has changed its bullying reporting system and its training for assistant principals, the Press-Enterprise reported.