Two California teenagers who admitted to beating their classmate to death have been sentenced to 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.
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, reported the Press-Enterprise.
During his ruling, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Roger A 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.
He said that he was required by law to give the least restrictive sentence to juvenile defendants but to still make sure they are rehabilitated.
‘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,’ Luebs said during his ruling, the Enterprise reported.,
The boys are due back in Juvenile Court on June 25 for a progress report and have be warned that if they do not comply with the terms of their probation, they will 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 now lying on the ground unmoving, the two teenagers continued to punch him.
He never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead nine days later, according to the Press-Enterprise.
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, the Press-Enterprise reported.
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 violent 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.