California

Students charged, with court dates set, in bullied middle schooler’s fatal beating

The two 13-year-olds held in the beating of a Southern California middle school student who died Tuesday of his injuries face juvenile criminal charges and now October court dates in the attack, Riverside County prosecutors said.

But it remained unclear Thursday whether or when the Moreno Valley teens will face homicide charges connected to the fatal Sept. 16 beating of the 13-year-old boy, Diego, on the grounds of Landmark Middle School in the city east of Riverside.

The boy, identified only as Diego, was pronounced clinically dead late Tuesday at a Riverside-area hospital little more than a week after the students’ sucker-punch attack.

Diego struck his head on a concrete pillar outside the school’s entrance when he was knocked down by a punch from the second student. He never regained consciousness despite what Riverside County Sheriff’s officials later described as “rigorous medical intervention and treatment efforts” at the hospital.

Diego’s family was preparing to donate the boy’s organs “to transform this tragedy into the gift of life for other children,” officials said Wednesday in announcing Diego’s death.

Landmark students and parents had told Southern California news organizations that Diego had been a target of bullies before the fatal attack. Authorities were investigating the claims in the days before Diego died.

One of the two juveniles will appear for an initial hearing Oct. 2 in Riverside; the other has a pretrial hearing set for Oct. 15 in the same Riverside juvenile courtroom, a Riverside County District Attorney’s spokesman said.

Both teens, reported to have been honor students at Landmark, remain held in Riverside County juvenile custody.

District Attorney’s prosecutors filed juvenile petitions equal to criminal complaints in adult court on Sept. 18, two days after the boys’ arrests, charging each with assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.

“At this time, those are the filed petitions in this case,” John Hall, a Riverside County District Attorney’s spokesman, said Thursday via email. “As with any case, should we receive updated information or evidence, we can amend to add or file different charges.”

Meantime, raw emotion on the Moreno Valley campus bubbled over Wednesday night when Moreno Valley Unified School District superintendent was spotted at a vigil for the fallen student.

Crowds at the vigil fired questions at Moreno Valley Unified superintendent Martinrex Kedziora as they chased after him, Los Angeles television station KTLA reported.

Kedziora was escorted into a building at the school by Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies, KTLA reported. He did not answer questions.

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