The juvenile will live in non-secure residential commitment followed by post-commitment probation until 2022.
The ongoing case in the death of Winter Park High School student Roger Trindade has reached a turning point, with one of the three juvenile suspects being sentenced last Friday, Feb. 16.
One of three juvenile suspects in the case charged with tampering with a witness and battery was sentenced to a non-secure residential commitment — a residential program for troubled youths — followed by post-commitment probation until his 19th birthday in 2022.
The sentencing comes almost 18 months after a violent altercation in Winter Park’s Central Park took the life of 15-year-old Roger Trindade. Reports indicate the juvenile suspect — along with fellow suspects Jesse Sutherland and Simeon Hall, both being charged as adults — was walking through Central Park that night and chose to spray Roger with a foul-smelling spray as a joke. A confrontation broke out shortly after, and Roger was later found brain dead in the park. He was put on life support but taken off it just days later.
Per company policy, the Winter Park/Maitland Observer is not naming the juvenile suspect.
“He most certainly didn’t believe that somebody was going to die,” Trey Flynn, the suspect’s defense attorney, said Friday. “It was a childish, bully-ish prank that went awry.”
Roger’s father, Rodrigo Trindade, said no matter what verdict was read, there is only a feeling of loss. The legal process has dragged on and on, and all the family wants — just as much as justice — is closure, he said.
“This is a tragic week here in Florida,” he said, referring to the recent school shooting in Parkland, as well. “There are multiple families suffering today. Something is wrong here. It’s not acceptable to see children murdered for nothing. (Roger) was pure love. … There is no justice that compares to this loss.”
Last Friday also saw a plea hearing for 16-year-old defendant Jesse Sutherland, who, along with defendant Simeon Hall, faces charges of manslaughter and battery and is being tried as an adult.
Jesse’s father, Benjamin, apologized to the Trindade family on behalf of his son.
“I really want to say I’m sorry this happened,” he said. “No parent should ever have to bury their child. … Please don’t take away Jesse’s chance at his life.”
Eryka Washington, public information officer for the State Attorney’s Office, said the judge was not prepared to rule that day but she should be able to rule at some point in March.
Roger’s mother, Adriana Thomé, spoke in the courtroom about Roger’s kind heart and spirit and said he would never have tried to start a fight that fateful night in Central Park.
“We never thought Winter Park would be a dangerous place,” Thomé said. “I believed it was safe. He killed my son with just punching him. … Every day I wake up trying to understand.”