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Teen soccer player charged in ref's death

Rick Bowmer / AP file

Jose Lopez, points to a undated photo of Riccardo Portillo, center, his brother-in-law, following a news conference Thursday, May 2, 2013, at Intermountain Medical Center, in Murray, Utah.

A 17-year-old boy accused of delivering a fatal punch to a soccer referee after being penalized during a game in Utah was charged with homicide by assault on Wednesday.

Though the teen was charged in a juvenile court, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said in a statement that his office will seek to prosecute him as an adult. The teen was not named in the formal charges.

The third-degree felony carries a lesser charge than manslaughter, with a sentence of up to five years in prison for adults.

"We did not believe we could demonstrate the premeditation or intent to justify those charges," Gill told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "Those other charges require another type of mental state. We did not believe that type of mental state was present."

Ricardo Portillo, 46, was refereeing a youth soccer match near Salt Lake City when he called a penalty against the goalie. He issued the teen a yellow card, and the player retaliated by punching Portillo in the jaw, NBC's Salt Lake City affiliate KSL reports.

Portillo died after being in a week-long coma. Court records obtained by KSL state that an autopsy revealed his death was "a result of injuries related to the blow to his head."

The teen has remained in juvenile detention since the April 27 attack. He is five months shy of his 18th birthday.

A juvenile court judge will decide if the suspect will be tried as an adult. He is currently being held on $100,000 bail.

Funeral services for Portillo, who leaves behind three daughters and four grandchildren, were set for Wednesday.