ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A judge has taken an adult sentence off the table for two teenagers convicted of beating a 15-year-old boy to death, indicating the teens could avoid serving time in an adult prison.
The sentencing hearing focused on whether Simeon Hall and Jesse Sutherland had the maturity and mental capacity to understand their own actions when they fatally beat Roger Trindade -- and whether the rest of their lives should be spent in prison.
Prosecutors argued Trindade's death was a vicious, adult-style case of manslaughter, but defense attorneys claimed it was a one-time mistake.
"It was foolish. It was silly. It was stupid," Judge Jenifer Harris said.
She told families on both sides that throwing Sutherland and Hall in prison would turn them into career criminals.
Judge Harris: “All of us are more than just our worst day. A kid who steals a candy bar from a store isn’t a thief and isn’t a thief forever. All of us are more than our worst actions are.” #WFTV— Field Sutton (@FSuttonWFTV) June 15, 2018
"The juvenile system is there to help children become productive adults," Harris said. "A kid who steals something -- candy from a store -- isn't a thief and isn't a thief forever. We're more than just what our worst action was."
Trindade's parents looked defeated as they walked out of the courthouse Friday.
"For everyone, it's frustrating. Yeah, today is frustrating," said Adriana Trindade. "This is not American justice."
"We lost our only son's life. Now they are going to do what -- one year, two years in jail? This is not acceptable. This is not right," Rodrigo Trindade said. "They spit on his dying body."
In October 2016, Jagger Gouda, who was 14 years old at the time, sprayed Trindade with skunk spray as a prank, investigators said.
The third teen involved in Trindade's death, Jagger Gouda, took a plea deal on witness tampering and battery while the case was still in juvenile court. He's spending up to a year in a juvenile facility. #WFTV pic.twitter.com/YIGkHigEaL— Field Sutton (@FSuttonWFTV) June 15, 2018
Police said Gouda called Hall and Sutherland, who were both accused of beating Trindade unconscious in downtown Winter Park’s Central Park. The two were also accused of spitting on Trindade while he was bleeding on the ground.
Trindade was removed from life support after two days.
Hall and Sutherland’s defense claimed Trindade’s death was an accident and wasn’t meant to be more than a fight between kids.
Both teens were tried as adults.
The judge has asked to reconvene in July with options for a punishment in line with the juvenile justice system.
"I was thinking that justice was going to happen today," Adriana Trindade said. "I'm very disappointed."
The victim's parents said they won't attend future court hearings.
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