California judge rules no prison time for two teenagers who killed middle-school classmate

A California judge recently ruled no prison sentence for two fourteen year old boys convicted of killing a young classmate.

The incident, occurring in the fall of 2019, resulted in the death of Diego Stolz, a 13 year old Landmark Middle School Student. Video footage captured the entire scene. One unnamed attacker confronted Diego on campus and punched him in the face, causing him to fall backward. The second culprit came from behind and threw another punch which knocked him into a pillar. When Diego’s head smacked the concrete, he fell unconscious, but the boys continued to punch him. After nine days on life support, Diego tragically passed away. 

This was not the first circumstance the two boys had aggressively bullied the victim. According to Fox 11, Diego’s aunt filed numerous complaints against the two boys before the fatal attack. In fact, the two boys were supposed to be suspended the day of the attack.

On Thursday March 26, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Roger A. Luebs ruled on the case. Pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, the attackers were expected to serve a juvenile prison sentence, recommended by the Probation Department. The boys were noted as lacking empathy, and even blamed the victim for his own death, according to the judge. However, Judge Luebs ordered that no prison sentence be applied. Instead, he imposed probation terms that include “therapy for anger management issues, impulsivity and a lack of empathy” as well as 150 hours of community service. He is also making the boys write a letter of apology to the family of Diego Stolz.

According to Judge Luebs, the rationale behind his laxed sentencing was to “sentence juveniles in the least restrictive manner that will result in both rehabilitation and public safety.” He, reportedly, diverted much of the blame for the incident on social media and violent video games — areas which the defendants are banned during probation. He described bloody video games as “trash” that prompt violence, encouraging parents not to be overly permissive with their childrens’ entertainment content.

To Diego’s family, he expressed his condolences. “there’s not much else I can say other than I’m so sorry. I’m sorry there isn’t more I could do to address your loss.” Many in the community were deeply angered by the judge’s focus on rehabilitation rather than the punishment aspects of deterrence and simple justice. About a dozen people appeared outside the courthouse with a portrait-banner of Diego, and could be heard chanting “Lock them up” and “We want justice.” Although the family refused to comment, Diego’s aunt wept through most of the proceedings.





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