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Teenagers convicted in Roger Trindade death to be sentenced as juveniles

15-year-old Roger Trindade beaten to death in 2016

WINTER PARK, Fla. – Two teenagers convicted of beating a Winter Park High School student to death in 2016 were ordered to juvenile sanctions on Friday, which will include dramatically reduced sentence length.

Another hearing has been scheduled on July 16 to hear the full details of the sanctions, like how long the teenagers could serve.

In May, Jesse Sutherland and Simeon Hall were both found guilty of manslaughter in the 2016 beating death of 15-year-old Roger Trindade. 

Judge Jenifer Harris said she cannot hand down a sentence until further Department of Juvenile Justice evaluations are complete. Both the state prosecutor and the defense attorneys expressed concerns with previous reports compiled by the DJJ, citing inaccuracies and issues with how evaluations were conducted.

In May, Sutherland and Hall were tried as adults and faced up to 17 years in prison. Both are currently 16 years old. Judge Harris chose to sentence the pair under juvenile guidelines instead, which will grant them a shorter sentence.

Hall was not sentenced in a separate case after he pleaded guilty to attacking a second teen

The state prosecutor made the argument against juvenile sanctions, calling to the stand Trindade's parents, Winter Park Police Chief Michael Deal and the local chief of the DJJ for the Ninth Circuit, as witnesses.

After the sentencing, Rodrigo Trindade, the father of the victim, criticized Judge Harris' decision.

"The people decided [Hall and Sutherland] were guilty and the judge now has decided they are victims," Trindade said. "It is totally opposite of what we thought could be called justice."

The parents said they do not plan on returning for the July sentencing hearing. 

Sutherland and Hall's defense attorneys argued that the teens are at a low risk of reoffending. Both attorneys brought in psychologists to attest to the mental state of their clients.

Both psychologists spoke about how adolescents' brains have yet to fully form, making them typically more likely to make impulsive decisions and susceptible to peer pressure.

It was peer pressure that the defense argued prompted Sutherland to throw the punch that police said killed Trindade. 

The death investigation revealed Sutherland and Hall thought Trindade was going to "jump" one of their friends on the night of Trindade's death on Oct. 15, 2016. 

The defense said the teenagers arrived at the scene on their bikes, anticipating helping their friends. Investigators said Sutherland threw one punch that left Trindade unconscious and later resulted in his death when he was taken off of life support.

One of the psychologists called as a witness said Sutherland developed post-traumatic stress disorder from the death and subsequent legal proceedings. The other psychologist said Hall showed signs of major depressive disorder that would worsen were he to face adult punishment.

Even Judge Harris admitted the difficulty she faced when making her decision.

"The idea of what's right in this decision -- I'm not sure anyone could do what is right in this case," Harris said. "I don't think it's possible to do what's right in this case. I think there's a lot of debate between what's best in this case."

Both teens have had non-violent and violent disciplinary issues from their time in high school.

Judge Harris said the reasoning behind her judgment stemmed primarily from her hope to see the two teenagers reformed, rather than solely "punished."

Trindade's father does not agree.

"They were treated like victims of the system," Trindade said. "So because your system cannot fix what they did, they were turned into victims."