"He has expressed nothing but sympathy for the Portillo family," said attorney Monte Sleight. "He has a close relationship with his father and he can't imagine this happening to his parents."
Ricardo Portillo died after he was allegedly punched by the teen during a soccer match in April. Portillo's memorial service was held last week and his body was returned to Mexico for burial.
The teen was charged in juvenile court with homicide by assault, but the district attorney is asking the juvenile judge to certify him as an adult.
"This is really just a kid who made a juvenile decision and we're hopeful everyone will see this 17 year old as a kid," said Sleight.
He noted that the teen isn't a troublemaker, has no criminal history and is a junior in high school. Sleight said it was an impulse on the soccer field that caused the boy's action.
"The best word I can think of is he's shocked, stunned," said Sleight. "Anybody in this kid's situation would be stunned. The allegation that a single blow could do this is almost unheard of."
As for the teen's family, Sleight said they are also shocked over what's happened.
"They want to make sure everyone is aware of their sympathies for the Portillo family," he said. "This is two families who have suffered tragic losses, one with their father and the other with their son."
Sleight said he will argue that the teenage suspect should be tried as a juvenile -- and not an adult.
"He has no criminal history, there is no indication with disciplinary problems in the system," Sleight said. "He just got involved in a single horrible tragic incident."