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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, May 2, 2018 4 months ago

BREAKING NEWS: Suspects in Roger Trindade case found guilty

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Jesse Sutherland and Simeon Hall have been found guilty by a jury on counts of manslaughter and battery.
by: Tim Freed Associate Editor

The verdict is in.

Teenagers Jesse Sutherland and Simeon Hall were found guilty by a jury Wednesday, May 2, on counts of manslaughter and battery in the case involving the death of 15-year-old Winter Park High School student Roger Trindade.

The verdict comes more than a year and half after a violent altercation in Winter Park’s Central Park that took the life of Trindade. Reports and testimonies indicate that Trindade was in the Park Avenue area with a friend the night of Oct. 15, 2016. Trindade was sitting on a half wall when another juvenile – who he didn’t know – sprayed him with a foul-smelling spray as a joke. Trindade and his friend reportedly pursued that juvenile to find out what they’d just been sprayed with. Suspects Jesse Sutherland, Simeon Hall and a third juvenile confronted Trindade and his friend in Central Park shortly after, and a punch was thrown that struck Trindade and knocked him to the ground. Roger was later found brain dead in the park. He was put on life support but taken off it just days later.

Sutherland and Hall were both tried as adults during the case.

“If Jesse Sutherland and Simeon Hall were acting lawfully, then Roger’s death is excusable,” Assistant State Attorney Teri Mills-Uvalle said in court. “They clearly were not acting lawfully.”

The third juvenile suspect in the case, who was charged with tampering with a witness and battery, was sentenced in February to a non-secure residential commitment — a residential program for troubled youths — followed by post-commitment probation until his 19th birthday in 2022.

Per company policy, the Winter Park/Maitland Observer is not naming the third juvenile suspect. The Observer is naming Sutherland and Hall since they were tried as adults.

“(The third juvenile suspect) most certainly didn’t believe that somebody was going to die,” Trey Flynn, the suspect’s defense attorney, said in February. “It was a childish, bully-ish prank that went awry.”

The verdict on Wednesday brings a wave of mixed emotions for Roger’s mother, Adriana Thomé, and his father, Rodrigo Trindade. There may be a feeling of justice with the verdict, but Roger – a beloved son – was still taken away from his parents. 

“I feel a little bit of closure,” Thomé said. “I feel sad. Yesterday I saw this boy with the police with him in chains. I feel sad too. This case is so unbelievable – he killed Roger. … He was guilty and he has to pay for this. He has to teach other kids they can’t bully. Everything began with a bullying act that night.”

Rodrigo said that justice was served on Wednesday, but that there’s no celebration. It’s a tragic day for everyone involved, he said.

“I feel like justice was served and delivered its message that this is not acceptable,” Rodrigo said. “They were double the size of our son. They should never have put that much strength on him. It was a coward’s act. (Roger) never harmed anyone. He was just not capable.”

“This is not victory or anything like that. We feel sad for the families of Jesse and Simeon, but this is not our decision. It’s the justice (system’s) decision. There’s nothing we can do about that. We are sorry for them. We hoped it could be different. It also talks to society. This cannot go unpunished. Who knows? The next day it might be someone else’s son that will lose his life. No one wants that to happen ever again.”

Sutherland and Hall are set to receive a sentencing on Friday, June 15.

Tim Freed is an Associate Editor with the Winter Park/Maitland Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

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