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Teen is sentenced in slaying with bat

The youth, who killed another player after a game in Palmdale, gets up to 11 years in CYA.

August 17, 2007|Ann M. Simmons | Times Staff Writer

A 15-year-old boy who killed another teenager with a baseball bat two years ago was ordered Thursday to serve up to 11 years at the California Youth Authority.

The boy was 13 when he struck 15-year-old Jeremy Rourke with a bat after a Pony League baseball game in Palmdale on April 12, 2005. Witnesses said the boy swung twice, first at Rourke's legs, then at his head. Rourke was pronounced dead at a hospital that night. His assailant was originally convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to detention at the California Youth Authority until he turned 25.

In January, an appeals court ruled that the teen acted "in the heat of passion" and reduced his conviction to voluntary manslaughter. The maximum juvenile sentence for such an offense is four to 11 years in detention.

"Regardless of what you call it, the facts remain the same," said Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Lonnie Felker. "I'm disappointed it was dropped down to manslaughter, because I do believe a murder was committed."

The assailant's family could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Ian Noel, who took the case about six months ago, said he and the teen's family were hoping that he would be released early.

"By all accounts, he is a terrific kid," said Noel.

According to testimony during the murder trial, the teen was taunted and shoved by Rourke after a game. The teen, who is African American, told the court that Rourke, who was white, addressed him with a racial slur. The teen said he felt threatened by Rourke, who stood a foot taller and outweighed him by 100 pounds. Noel said the boy's action was a response to provocation, and he "acted in perceived self-defense."

The teen will receive credit for two years already served, according to the district attorney's office, and Felker said it was unlikely he would serve 11 years.

"I don't see them keeping him that long," Felker said. "He will spend less time in custody. . . if he does everything that is expected of him."

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ann.simmons@latimes.com

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