Sunday, May 19, 2024
Sunday May 19, 2024
Sunday May 19, 2024

Mother pleads for mercy as teen faces sentencing for assault on teacher over Nintendo switch



Florida teen’s violent outburst raises questions about mental health and school environments

The shocking incident unfolded in February at Matanzas High School, where Depa allegedly attacked teacher Joan Naydich after being denied the opportunity to play his Nintendo Switch. Surveillance footage captured the violent assault, showing Depa punching Naydich while she lay motionless on the ground. Depa has since pleaded guilty to a first-degree felony charge of aggravated battery and is currently held on a $1 million bond.

Naydich suffered severe injuries, including five broken ribs, hearing loss, and ongoing cognitive problems. She has advocated for the maximum sentence of 30 years for Depa.

However, in her first public appearance since the incident, Leanne Depa, Brendan’s mother, has made an emotional plea for leniency. She expressed remorse for her son’s actions, acknowledging the trauma he has faced in his life, including autism.

“I feel like if he gets sentenced to prison, it’s a death sentence for him… And to have your child call and cry and say, ‘I don’t want to die’ — it’s awful,” said Leanne, highlighting the impact of her son’s mental disabilities.

Leanne pointed to Brendan’s history of childhood trauma and mental disabilities, emphasizing that she had homeschooled him previously due to his challenges in a traditional school environment. She argued that the crisis team should have been involved before professionals took away the Nintendo Switch during school hours.

“I never thought he belonged in public school. I didn’t have a choice,” Leanne explained.

Depa’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for January, prompting a broader conversation about the intersection of mental health, education, and the criminal justice system.


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