Leanne Depa, the mother of Brendan Depa, an 18-year-old Florida teen convicted of brutally assaulting his teacher, is pleading for a more lenient sentence for her son. Brendan, who stands at 6-foot-6, faces up to 30 years in prison for attacking Joan Naydich, a paraprofessional at Matanzas High School. The incident left Naydich with severe injuries, including five broken ribs and cognitive issues.
During a recent appearance on NewsNation’s “Banfield,” Leanne expressed deep remorse for her son’s actions but implored Naydich to consider Brendan’s challenging background and mental health issues, including autism, in her sentencing recommendation. She described prison as a potential “death sentence” for her son, who has faced significant trauma and has a history of mental disabilities.
Brendan pleaded guilty to the assault, which occurred over a Nintendo Switch video game when he was 17. The attack, captured on the school’s surveillance system, showed Brendan repeatedly striking Naydich. Naydich, on her part, has expressed her desire for a maximum 30-year sentence for Brendan.
Leanne highlighted Brendan’s mental health struggles, noting his diagnoses of severe autism, ADHD, oppositional defiance disorder, and reactive explosive disorder. She revealed that despite his past stay in an autism behavioral hospital and her preference for homeschooling due to his inability to cope in a school environment, Brendan was placed in public school by his behavioral group home.
Leanne questioned the decision to allow Brendan access to the Nintendo Switch at school and noted that a crisis team should have been called in before attempting to take the game away. She also mentioned Brendan’s prior behavioral issues, including three previous battery arrests and an incident in jail.
Brendan, who is being held on a $1 million bond, awaits his sentencing hearing scheduled for January. Leanne’s emotional appeal highlights the complexities surrounding cases involving individuals with significant mental health challenges and the justice system.