Welcome to California: Teens who beat 13-year-old classmate to death get sentenced to probation, released to parents

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MORENO VALLEY, CA – Two teens were sentenced to probation and released to their parents after pleading to involuntary manslaughter in the fatal beating of a 13-year-old classmate at a Moreno Valley school in 2019.

Back on September 16th, 2019, 13-year-old Diego Stolz was beaten to death by two of his classmates at Landmark Middle School. While the two responsible for Stolz’s killing did plead to involuntary manslaughter, officials are not releasing the identities of either two now-14-year-old convicted felons.

It was a case that shocked the community at the time it occurred, in part due to bystanders filming the beating of Stolz as it occurred. In the video, Stolz can be seen getting punched and then falling, where his head struck a concrete pillar.

He unfortunately died nine days later due to his sustained injuries in the beating.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Roger Luebs ruled on March 26th that the 14-year-old juveniles must also perform 150 hours of community service, attend counseling, and participate in a character-building program alongside their probation term.

Apparently, both of the convicted killers spent only 47 days inside of a juvenile facility for their actions that led to Stolz’s death.

The judge dismissed the district attorney’s and probation department’s requests for the teenagers to spend more time behind bars. He clarified that the law required him to punish the juveniles in the least restrictive manner in order to increase both rehabilitation efforts and public safety.

More time behind bars for the teens, which would result in them being housed with more experienced and seasoned offenders, will do more harm in the long run, according to Judge Luebs.

In an effort to justify the ruling, defense attorney David Wohl preemptively shrugged off those who might perceive this ruling as being tantamount to a “slap on the wrist” for the two killer teens:

“The idea that they didn’t go to youth prison shouldn’t be seen as a slap on the wrist. Actually, they’re going to have a lot of work to do to have to eventually complete the probation, which probably won’t end until their 18th birthday.”

Ricson Dakanay, another defense attorney who represented one of the teens, alleged that his client is “extremely remorseful” for the killing of Stolz:

“He is extremely remorseful. It was an incident that occurred when they were 13-years-old. There was trauma involved in that. They couldn’t really process what was going on at the time.”

The family of the victim have opted not to comment on the outcome of the case.

The unnamed convicted killers are reportedly returning to Juvenile Court on June 25th to administer a progress report to the judge regarding their imposed sentences.

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In other cases involving youthful offenders, a group of teens were caught on surveillance camera in Philadelphia administering a group-beating of a transit worker. 

Law Enforcement Today reported on that incident earlier in March. Here’s that previous report. 

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – The disturbing beating of a Philadelphia train station transit worker that occurred earlier in March was captured on surveillance video, showcasing a group of roughly ten teens punching and kicking the transit employee after he fell to the ground.

The incident occurred during the evening of March 15th inside of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s 15th Street Station in Center City, according to reports.

At approximately 11:30 p.m. on the night of the attack, the victim was in the process of setting up the work zone for his crew when he was suddenly rushed by a group of teens. The attack was reportedly unprovoked.

Transit Workers Union Local 234 President Willie Brown commented on the attack, alleging that the victim hadn’t even said anything to the group of teens before they rushed and attacked him:

“There [were] no words passed. There was no reason. They just attacked him and it’s sometimes almost like they get points or they have this game going where they just jump on somebody.”

In the video of the incident, the worker can be seen getting punched on the back and side of his head by a couple of the teens, until he falls to the ground while slightly pressed against the side of a wall.

Numerous others then join in on the group beating as the victim is downed, with several punches and kicks delivered to the victim before members of the group start to casually walk away. The victim is currently recovering from the attack as of this writing.

But this incident has sparked calls from within the Transit Workers Union to see SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel resign from his position, under the notion that Chief Nestel isn’t doing enough to keep transit workers safe.

TWU Local 234 President Brown commented on those sentiments, saying the following:

“We have lost control of the subway system. I think it’s the leadership of the police department. I don’t think he has confidence in his own police force.”

Chief Nestel has delivered comments regarding the attack lodged against the transit worker, describing the actions of the teens as being “outrageous behavior.” However, Chief Nestel also noted that he has zero intentions of resigning from his role within police department.

The police chief’s proposed solution, for the meantime, is entertaining the possibility of “contracting” security guards for the subway system:

“We’re certainly taking measures to try to address that. Over the past month, discussions have been ongoing about contracting with a security guard firm to put guards on some platforms to maintain visibility and to serve as observation and reporting posts.”

Officials have yet to make any arrests in the case, as it is still being investigated. However, SEPTA riders, such as Darla Cobb of Southwest Philadelphia, are legitimately concerned for their safety while riding the subway:

“It’s terrible down here. It’s dangerous down here. Unbelievable and I’m scared for my life, because that could be me.”

This is a developing investigation.

Please follow Law Enforcement Today as we continue to gather further details on this case.

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