Mother of hulking thug who stomped HS teacher over Nintendo Switch begs for leniency

The mother of a hulking black thug who brutally stomped a white teacher over a portable video game system is pleading for mercy as her son faces the prospect of spending time behind bars for the vicious assault.

Leanne Depa, the mother of 6-foot-6 Brendan Depa spoke for the first time about the February assault when her son, who weighed nearly 300 pounds, tackled Joan Naydich, a paraprofessional at Matanzas High School in Flagler County, Florida, and then proceeded to stomp on and pummel her before school staffers were able to prevent her from being killed in an incident that made national headlines.

“I am terrified for my child,” a teary Leanne Depa told Ashleigh Banfield of NewsNation. “I feel like if he gets sentenced to prison, it’s a death sentence for him.”

(Video: NewsNation)

During her NewsNation appearance, the brute’s mom sought to instill sympathy in viewers, saying that her son suffers from a variety of disorders including autism and ADHD, and experienced trauma as a child, telling the host that he never should have been in a public school environment where he was placed by his group home despite his troubles.

“I had always homeschooled him because he didn’t handle the school environment. 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,” she said. “I never thought he belonged in public school. I didn’t have a choice.”

“I am so sorry for what my son did and nobody should ever have to go through that,” Depa said. “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.”

It’s understandable why Mrs. Depa wouldn’t want to see her son tossed into prison but there is also a matter of accountability for a young man who could suit up as a defensive lineman for NFL teams nearly killing a woman a fraction of his size who didn’t stand a chance in an unprovoked act of extreme violence.

(Video: YouTube/KPRC)

The victim, whose life was shattered after being beaten to a pulp by the teen after she took away his Nintendo Switch, has refused to cave to appeals for leniency, instead insisting that her attacker face the maximum punishment for his actions which could be up to 30 years.

Naydich suffered multiple broken ribs, a severe concussion, and hearing loss in one ear as a result of the beatdown, she was placed on unpaid leave shortly after returning to work and has been relying on the generosity of others to survive since the attack.

“Everybody that knows me or knew me [before the attack], knows that I’m a totally different person now,” Naydich told Fox 35 Orlando. “My whole life was just turned upside down.”

“Unfortunately, a lot of my injuries that are not visible I’m going to have for the rest of my life,” she said. “I want to make sure he is not able to walk the streets freely.”

Depa, who is now 18 years old, pleaded no contest to a charge of aggravated battery on a school board employee in October, a first-degree felony. His sentencing hearing is set for January.

Chris Donaldson

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