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2 Dec 2023
Olivia Rondeau

NextImg:Mom of Florida Teen Who Beat Down Teacher Says Prison Would Be a 'Death Sentence,' Begs for Leniency

The mother of Brendan Depa, the autistic Florida teen seen beating his teacher unconscious in a February viral video that disturbed the nation, says prison time for her son would be a “death sentence.”

Leanne Depa is pleading for leniency for her son, now 18, who is facing up to 30 years behind bars for the vicious attack on Matanzas High School paraprofessional Joan Naydich that left her with severe injuries.

In her first public appearance since her son — apparently provoked by another teacher confiscating his Nintendo switch — assaulted Naydich, Leanne begged the victim to request the 6-foot-6-inch teenager be given a lighter punishment.

“I am so sorry for what my son did and nobody should ever have to go through that,” Leanne said during a tearful Wednesday appearance on NewsNation.

“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.”

She said the whole ordeal has been “devastating” and “heartbreaking,” sharing that she feels “terrified for her child.”

However, Naydich has previously expressed that she has “no interest” in helping her attacker get a lesser sentence.

Brendan pleaded guilty last month to the beating, which left Naydich with five broken ribs, a severe concussion, hearing loss, and ongoing cognitive problems. As Breitbart News previously reported, the educator is now living off of donation money after being forced onto unpaid leave by Flagler County School District.

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

The brutal beatdown was captured on the school’s surveillance footage, garnering massive attention online, and calls to imprison Depa.

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“I feel like if he gets sentenced to prison, it’s a death sentence for him. He’s scared. And to have your child call and cry and say, ‘I don’t want to die’ — it’s awful,” Leanne Depa said to NewsNation.

According to the mom, a long list of mental disabilities and childhood trauma explain her son’s violent behavior.

Brendan — who has severe autism, ADHD, oppositional defiance disorder, and reactive explosive disorder — was put in the public high school by his intensive behavioral group home despite his mental deficiencies, Leanne said.

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

She also pointed out that her son should not have had his Nintendo Switch during school hours and that a crisis team is typically called before professionals take the game away.

According to Naydich, she wasn’t even the faculty member who confiscated the device.

Brendan, who was 17 at the time, was originally charged as a juvenile, but tried as an adult after his initial charges were upgraded.

“The troubled teen had three prior battery arrests before the assault on Naydich and was reportedly involved in a jail fight in September,” the New York Post reported.

He is now being held on a $1 million bond, with his sentencing hearing scheduled for January.