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José's lawyer, L. Monte Sleight, has asked the Térans not to speak in detail about the incident. Still, for them knowing how it happened does nothing to explain why it did. "He's not a violent or aggressive person; in my house he's never raised his hand," says his mother. "I can't believe it or accept it. He's the motor of our family, and now he's not here."
Teachers from the high school where José was on pace to graduate a year early have offered to write letters to the court on his behalf. Meanwhile, the little nephew that he took care of asks, "Where my uncle?"
"On vacation," the sister says—because how does anyone begin to explain why and how a teenager with no documented history of violence ends up killing a man with a single punch?
Salt Lake City district attorney Sim Gill has charged José with homicide by assault, a notch below Utah's definition of manslaughter, and has filed a request for the 17-year-old to be tried as an adult. He would face a maximum of five years in prison if convicted.
It's a fate Sleight hopes to avoid. "He made a juvenile decision, and that's why we have a juvenile court system," he says. "José is very close to his father, and I know that he is wondering what it would be like if someone did this to his father."
For Portillo's daughters, the scenario isn't hypothetical. They have been asked many times about forgiveness since Ricardo's death. "I'm not going to forgive him right now," Johana says of the alleged assailant. And then a pause.
There, in an oversized photo at her home, the referee's arms are wide open. "But I will," she says, "because that's what my dad taught us."