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Community Focuses on Life, Legacy of Ricardo Portillo

A Utah teen accused of punching a soccer referee who later died was charged Wednesday with homicide by assault. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said he will seek to try the teen as an adult in the death of 46-year-old Ricardo Portillo. In the meantime, the community is mourning the loss of Portillo at a memorial service and viewing in Salt Lake City. 

A framed picture of Ricardo stands next to the casket - which is closed for the viewing. Friends and family are wearing white in his memory, and trying not to think too much about the circumstances of the death. Elena Lopez is Portillo’s niece.  She says he was he was like a second father.

“I’m trying not to cry,” Lopez says. “I’m trying to remember him how he was, just how goofy he was, all his jokes and stuff.”

The service is in The Rail Event Center, next to the Diamond Mattress Company where Portillo worked on the production line for 16 years up until his death. Nicole Fox is the daughter of the owner, and has known Portillo – or Ricky– since she was 7 years old. 

“Every time I would go in the back and I would see Ricky, he would always smile, and even just for a second he would brighten your day,” Fox says. “It’s really upsetting because it’s so sudden, and it’s just a great loss in anyone’s life who knew him, because he was one of the kindest sweetest, people you would ever know.”

Portillo’s daughter Johana – who has formerly been speaking to the press – has asked for privacy, saying in a statement that she just wants to be with her Dad. The seventeen year old male who allegedly struck Portillo has been charged with a third degree felony that could result in a prison sentence of up to five years. If he is convicted as a juvenile, the penalty could be less severe. In regards to the charges filed, Johana Portillo says she has no comment at this time, and she will let the justice system take its course.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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