Recently released images depict the severe facial injuries of Joan Naydich, a Florida teacher’s aide, resulting from an attack by a student at Matanzas High School in Palm Coast. The incident occurred in February when Naydich, during her work at the school located 60 miles south of Jacksonville, confronted 17-year-old Brendan Depa for playing on his Nintendo Switch.
Depa, who is autistic and measures 6-foot 6-inches, and now 18, responded violently. He was seen striking and kicking Naydich, resulting in her being rendered unconscious. He has since entered a no contest plea to first-degree aggravated battery as an adult and faces a potential 30-year prison sentence at his January 31 sentencing.
Naydich’s injuries were extensive, including multiple broken ribs, a concussion, and partial hearing loss. Newly released photos show significant trauma, including facial lacerations, eye bruising, a distorted nose, and a torn ear.
Speaking to Fox Orlando, Naydich highlighted the long-term impact of her internal injuries, affecting her cognitive abilities. She returned to work in August under a new role but was soon placed on unpaid leave, relying on community support.
Ahead of Depa’s sentencing, Naydich is advocating for the maximum 30-year imprisonment. She expressed ongoing struggles since the attack, including difficulties in resolving her workers’ compensation case and frustration with the lack of support from the Flagler County school district. Naydich has not viewed the footage of the incident and chooses not to.
She clarified that she did not provoke the attack by taking Depa’s gaming device. The assault has led to a significant change in her personality and cognitive functions, with challenges in speech, patience, and routine tasks.
Depa’s legal history includes three prior battery arrests and involvement in a prison altercation in September. His court appearance on October 30 saw him entering shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit. His defense sought a declaration of incompetence due to his autism, but a court-appointed psychologist deemed him competent for trial. Judge Terence Perkins will determine his sentence.
While Depa’s family hoped for a focus on probation and treatment, the prosecution and Naydich have shown no interest in reducing potential penalties. He is currently held on a $1 million bond, with his sentencing hearing scheduled for January 31.
Flagler County school district has been approached for comments regarding the incident.