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Public funeral service set for referee felled in soccer match assault

Published May 8, 2013 7:06 am

Crime • Prosecutors expected to file charges Wednesday.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A soccer referee who suffered a fatal head injury after being assaulted during a match will be memorialized at a public funeral mass on Wednesday — the same day prosecutors are expected to file criminal charges against the 17-year-old boy accused of landing the deadly punch.

Services for Ricardo Portillo being with a 1 p.m. viewing at the The Rail Event Center, 235 N. 500 West, followed by a Catholic mass at 7 p.m., Portillo family friend Tony Yapias said. The public is asked to wear white shirts in Portillo's honor.

Salt Lake County prosecutors began their review of the case evidence on Monday and may reach a decision by mid-day Wednesday, District Attorney Sim Gill said.

Gill said his office is carefully weighing factors in the case, including the boy's age, the sequence of events, and the range of criminal charges that may apply.

"It's a complicated matter," Gill said.

The accused teen, a goalkeeper playing his first game for a La Liga Continental de Fútbol team, was arrested two days after the April 27 match. He's being held in juvenile detention for investigation of aggravated assault. The boy's name has not been released.

Portillo, 46, of Salt Lake City, died Saturday after nearly a week in a coma. Family members removed him from life support and donated his organs to waiting transplant patients so he could help others, his daughter Johana Portillo-Lopez has said.

Authorities say the boy was upset with Portillo after the official penalized the teen with a yellow card for rough play. The teen allegedly struck Portillo in the side of the head as the referee recorded the infraction in his official's notebook.

After being hit, the volunteer ref fell to the ground and began vomiting blood. Paramedics took him to the hospital.

A native of Guadalajara, Mexico, Portillo has lived in the U.S. for 17 years and had been volunteering as a referee for eight years. His body will be returned to Mexico for burial, his daughter has said.

jdobner@sltrib.com