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Pitcher retaliated with bat after being teased

PALMDALE, Calif. -- A 13-year-old pitcher was charged Thursday
with murder for allegedly clubbing a teenage friend to death with a baseball bat, moments after the friend apparently teased him at a concession stand
following his baseball team's first loss of the season.

The alleged assailant is accused of striking 15-year-old Jeremy
Rourke in the knee and again in the head after the youth league
game Tuesday evening, said Los Angeles County Deputy District
Attorney Ron Smalstig.

The 13-year-old and the older boy apparently had words in front
of a concession stand at the Pony League park in Palmdale, about 40
miles northeast of Los Angeles.

The accused youth will be tried as a juvenile because no one
under 14 can be tried as an adult in California, Smalstig said. His
name was not released because of his age. He remained in custody
and was scheduled to make his first court appearance Friday.

If a judge finds the allegations are true, the boy could face a
sentence ranging from probation to state custody until he's 25,
said District Attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison.

The district attorney spokeswoman declined to say what may have
prompted the attack or to provide details about the allegations.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which investigated the
incident, also declined comment.

The boys had no history of fighting, said Tony Trevino, coach of
the Dodgers, which had just defeated the alleged assailant's team, the
Angels, when the clubbing took place.

"That's what's so shocking and so appalling," he said. "What
happened? What did we miss as a community? What did we miss as
parents?"

At the playing field Wednesday night, a family friend read a
statement from Rourke's parents, who urged people not to demonize
their son's attacker.

He "is not a monster. He's a good boy who made a bad mistake.
This is a mistake that will haunt both families for the rest of our
lives," the statement said.

The accused youth was the starting pitcher when his team was beaten
for the first time in eight games by the Dodgers, a team that went
into the game with a 1-6 record.

Deputies declined to provide further details of the attack. It
occurred during a regular weekday night game that attracts both
children and their parents in this community of 116,000.

Ryan Gosporra, 15, said the incident began when Rourke cut in
front of the accused youth in the snack bar line. Neither he nor Trevino
saw the attack that occurred after the last game of the night with
about 40 people at the field.

But Trevino, 50, said witnesses told him the two boys teased
each other before the accused pulled a bat from his bag and hit
Rourke in the knees, then the head.

After the attack, Trevino saw the alleged assailant standing against a
fence with his parents. "He looked scared. He was in shock," the
coach said.

League officials said play would be suspended at the field for
several days.

"We're really in a state of shock over this whole thing,"
league President Ken Curtis said. Rourke's father is a past
president of the league.

A memorial was held at Highland High School, where Rourke
attended classes. Students shared memories, and a bundle of pink
and black balloons was released in honor of Rourke.

"He's just a funny kid. He liked to make people smile,"
Gosporra said. "You could be in the worst mood, and he would make
you laugh."