Clovis News

Clovis teen sentenced in death of toddler

A teenage boy who killed a young girl by shoving her into a piece of furniture in December was sentenced Friday to nine months at Fresno County's Juvenile Justice Campus.

The boy also will be required to do volunteer work, attend anger-management classes and pay more than $4,600 in restitution, Fresno Juvenile Court Judge David Gottlieb ruled.

In December, Clovis police accused the former Clark Intermediate School student, who was 13 at the time, of beating Jennifer Yang, 2½, while baby-sitting. His name is being withheld because of his age.

Family members took her off life support after doctors declared her brain-dead. The Coroner's Office later determined that Jennifer died from blows to the head.

"There are no winners in this situation," Gottlieb said. "It is a tragic situation."

Gottlieb spoke while two interpreters -- one for the victim's family and one for the accused teen's family -- translated.

The judge said it was clear that the teen did not intend to kill Jennifer when he shoved her. But Gottlieb said it was clear he used force against a small child and, as a result, she died.

"As a result of your actions, this child died," he told the boy.

Craig Downey of the Fresno County Probation Department told Gottlieb there would be help for the teenager to integrate back into the community and to become a "productive citizen."

The boy initially faced a more serious charge of voluntary manslaughter, but his attorney, Mark W. King, persuaded the prosecutor to reduce the crime to involuntary manslaughter after several weeks of negotiations.

After the sentencing, King said it was "a fair and just resolution. Two families have been changed forever." He called the incident "a tragic accident."

Both Gottlieb and King noted the boy had no criminal record and was not trouble to his parents, who sat immediately behind him during Friday's proceedings.

"I think he's a good kid," King said.

The relationship between the boy and the victim has not been disclosed. But police have said that the boy's and the victim's families lived in an apartment complex on the 1200 block of Harvard Avenue. Hmong families in the apartment complex rely on one another, including baby-sitting one another's children, police have said.

On Friday, Gottlieb also said further restitution may be sought by the victim's family, and he ruled that both the boy and his family will be responsible for paying if that happens.

He also said the boy will be held to an 8 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew after his release, and he and his family must attend counseling. He also ordered the boy's mother and father to attend parenting classes.