Mom of teen who beat teacher unconscious over Nintendo Switch says prison for him would be 'death sentence'
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Featured Image Credit: Flagler County Sheriff's Office / YouTube/NewsNation
The mother of a Florida teenager who beat his teacher unconscious over a Nintendo Switch has said giving him jail time would be like a 'death sentence'.
Brendan Depa, who is now 18 years old, is currently facing up to 30 years behind bars after pushing teacher Joan Naydich to the floor before kicking and punching her.
The incident took place in February at Matanzas High School, where Depa had allegedly become angry about another staff member not allowing him to play his Nintendo Switch.
Surveillance footage from the school caught Depa punching Naydich as she lay motionless on the ground, and the former student has since pleaded guilty to a first-degree felony charge of aggravated battery.
He is now being held on a $1 million bond ahead of his sentencing hearing.
Naydich was left with five broken ribs, hearing loss and what she has described as ongoing cognitive problems as a result of the attack, prompting her to call for Depa to be sentenced to a maximum of 30 years behind bars.
However, Depa's mother, Leanne Depa, has begged for her son not to sent to jail.
In her first public appearance since the incident took place, she told NewsNation: “I am so sorry for what my son did and nobody should ever have to go through that.
“But at the same time, please consider that my son has had a hard life and he’s gone through so much trauma in his life. He has autism. Please show mercy to him."
Explaining that her son was 'scared' about his sentence, Leanne also told the station: “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."
Leanne pointed to her son's mental disabilities and a history of childhood trauma to help explain his attack on Naydich, and argued that she 'never thought' Depa 'belonged in public school'.
The former student had previously spent time at an autism behavioral hospital.
“I had always homeschooled him because he didn’t handle the school environment," Leanne said.
She continued: "I asked the group home, ‘Did he have to go to public school? Could he not do school online?’ And I was assured by them that all of their clients went to public school.
“I never thought he belonged in public school. I didn’t have a choice.”
Leanne further argued that Depa should not have been near the Nintendo Switch during school hours, claiming a crisis team is typically called before professionals take the game away.
Depa's sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin in January.