Suspect pleads guilty in Dietrich locker room attack

A suspect in a grisly attack on a Dietrich High School football teammate pleaded guilty to a reduced charge Friday.

John R.K. Howard, 19, of Keller, Texas, pleaded guilty to a felony count of injury of a child, the Twin Falls Times-News reported Friday.

Howard faces two to three years’ probation. He could avoid jail or prison time, and have his conviction dismissed, if he successfully completes probation, the Times-News reported.

Howard and two teammates were accused of using a coat hanger to assault another teammate in an October 2015 attack. Howard had originally faced a felony charge of forcible penetration using a foreign object.

In agreeing to the reduced charge, Deputy Attorney General Casey Hemmer said prosecutors do not believe the attack was a sex crime, according to The Times-News reported. Hemmer also said prosecutors do not consider the attack to be racially motivated; the three suspects are white, while the victim is black.

“This was more of a vulnerable-victim motivated crime,” Hemmer said, according to the Times-News. The victim is mentally disabled.

The Dietrich School District still faces a $10 million civil lawsuit in the case — which alleges district officials either knew about an escalating pattern of violence, or should have been aware of the situation.

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