Sentencing hearing for student accused of beating a local teacher’s aide continues

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. — A student accused of beating a local teacher’s aide is facing up to 30 years in prison.


The teacher’s aide Joan Naydich told the court she wants 18-year-old Brendan Depa to be held responsible. However, she did not specify if she thinks he should go to prison or be admitted to an institution.

Doctors defended Brendan Depa’s actions.

Arguing his autism, mental health issues, behavioral issues, oppositional defiant disorder and rage responses -- played a role during a moment caught on camera that changed multiple lives.

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“As he came up behind me, I turned around and he spit all over me,” Nydich said. “I looked at him and said, ‘well that’s an assault ‘my last memory is putting my hand on the doorknob to exit the room.”

Video shows the moment Depa beat his former Matanzas High School teacher’s aide Joan Naydich.

That day Naydich said she asked Depa who was 17 at the time to put his video game away.

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“The teacher was asking him what’s going on with the game,” Naydich said. “You know you can’t be taking it out anymore.”

One of his doctors explained that Depa’s known disabilities and behavioral issues should have played a part in how Naydich reacted in this situation. And that these behavior problems have been consistent throughout his life.

Depa’s attorneys argued Naydich did not have the adequate information, like access to his individualized programing.

American activist and school psychologist Dr. Umar Johnson sat in court to support Depa and spoke up outside.

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“Brendan Depa should have never be tried as an adult,” Johnson said.

Naydich revealed how that moment changed her life.

“A concussion, hearing loss, vision loss, rotator cuff issues, broken ribs, herniated disc,” Naydich said.

The judge still hasn’t heard from all the defenses’ witnesses and said he’ll need at least another day and a half to get through that before sentencing.

Depa is suing the school in civil court, arguing Flagler County schools did not follow the correct steps in addressing his documented behavioral and mental issues.

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