Charges upgraded to voluntary manslaughter against 2 students in Moreno Valley school attack

MORENO VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- The two Moreno Valley middle school students who were allegedly involved in an on-campus fight that turned deadly are now facing one count of voluntary manslaughter each, after prosecutors amended the petitions initially filed against the two juveniles.

The pair - accused in the brutal beating which was caught on camera by a bystander earlier this month - were charged with the upgraded counts Monday, according to the Riverside County District Attorney's office. They were previously charged Sept. 18 with assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.

One of the students was expected to appear for a hearing Wednesday, and the second has a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Oct. 15. Their identities were not disclosed due to their ages.

The victim, identified only as Diego in a statement from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, was pronounced clinically dead last week.

MORE: 13-year-old boy dies just over a week after campus attack at Moreno Valley middle school, authorities say

"Our community and the Moreno Valley Unified School District family has suffered an immeasurable loss," said Martinrex Kedziora, Moreno Valley Unified School District superintendent. "On behalf of the Board of Education, I want to send my deepest condolences to the family and friends of our beloved student."

MORE: Moreno Valley parents demand answers after middle school assault

A throng of mourners gathered outside Landmark Middle School following the announcement of Diego's death, many clutching candles and some wearing T-shirts emblazoned with a photo of the teen, who has only been identified as Diego.

The shirts read: "Diego strong. Speak up, stop bullying, end violence."

While some in the crowd are demanding change, most were there to show support for Diego and his family.

"Preparations by Diego's family are underway for organ donation to transform this tragedy into the gift of life for other children," a news release stated.

A remembrance ceremony was held at the middle school, with counselors available to speak with students, teachers and community members.

Heartbreaking words were shared by his friends as hundreds gathered outside the school.

Parents have been demanding answers from school administrators in the wake of the attack.

"Kids are being bullied and they're not doing anything," said parent Karla Palumbo. "We've asked them to change the policies, the rules, a little bit more stricter, but that hasn't happened."

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Parents demanded answers from school administrators during a packed meeting in Moreno Valley Wednesday after a fight at a middle school left a 13-year-old hospitalized



The middle school does have a troubled history. A 12-year-old boy died in 1998 following a fight with a friend over a basketball. In March of this year, deputies had to deploy pepper balls to break up an on-campus fight involving 50 students.

Vanessa Gonzalez's daughter was a 6th grader at the time.

"I know that it can happen at any school but the fact that it keeps happening at the same school is concerning," Gonzalez said.

At the vigil, an angry group surrounded the school district superintendent -- some calling him a coward -- as he made his way into the school.

Earlier in the day, Kedziora told reporters extra security has been added and instances of violence on campus aren't taken lightly by the school. Kedziora also made an appearance at the school, drawing screams from many in the crowd, which included upset parents and students. Some in the group called him a coward as he made his way into the school building.

When he was asked if Diego's death could have been prevented, Kedziora said the incident was still under investigation and he couldn't comment on it.

"On behalf of the City Council, I want to extend my sincere condolences to Diego's family and friends. No one should have to endure the pain of such a terrible loss," Moreno Valley Mayor Yxstian Gutierrez said in a statement. "This is a life-changing tragedy for everyone involved, including the staff and students at Landmark Middle School."

Parents are asking - what exactly is going to change after Diego's death?

They want more information from the school district about what exactly happened. They also want a plan on how the school is going to crack down on bullies and make sure it's safer for students moving forward.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call sheriff's Investigator Joshua Manjarrez at 951-955-2777.

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