Utah teen charged with homicide by assault in soccer referee death, avoids manslaughter count

A Utah teen accused of punching a soccer referee who later died has been charged with homicide by assault, a count issued when an attack unintentionally causes death.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced the charges Wednesday.

A homicide by assault charge is less serious than manslaughter. It carries up to five years in prison for adults, but penalties can be less for juveniles.

The district attorney's office says it will seek to try the teen as an adult.

The 17-year-old has been in juvenile detention since April 27, when the incident occurred at a recreational-league soccer match in a Salt Lake City suburb.

Authorities say the teen was playing goalie when 46-year-old Ricardo Portillo called a penalty on him. They say the teen began arguing with Portillo, then struck him in the head.

Portillo went into a coma hours later. He died Saturday.