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Prosecutors Won’t Press charges in Teen’s Death

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A Tulsa County district attorney said that no charges will be filed in the fight that took place in the bathroom of an Oklahoma high school last month and involved 16-year-old Nex Benedict, whose death the following day was ruled a suicide.

District attorney Stephen A. Kunzweiler released a statement on his decision Thursday after reviewing the Owasso police’s investigation into Benedict’s death and the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s report, per the Associated Press.

“When I review a report and make a decision to file a charge I must be convinced — as is every prosecutor — that a crime was committed and that I have reasonable belief that a judge or jury would be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed,” wrote Kunzweiler. “From all the evidence gathered, this fight was an instance of mutual combat.”

Friends and family said Benedict used he and him pronouns as well as they and them pronouns; relatives he had been bullied over his gender identity. The teen’s death has drawn national attention as activists and trans students blamed the state’s antagonistic policies surrounding transgender students for the tragedy.

On Feb. 7, Benedict was involved in a fight with three older girls. The next day, the 10th grader collapsed at home and later died at a hospital. Last week, the Oklahoma Medical Examiners Office released a summary report that listed Benedict’s cause of death as suicide due to a combined toxicity from diphenhydramine and fluoxetine.

“An important part of the Owasso Police Department’s investigation was the discovery of some brief notes, written by Benedict, which appeared to be related to the suicide,” said Kunzweiler. “The precise contents of the suicide note are a personal matter which the family will have to address within the privacy of their own lives.”

“Although the notes do not make any reference to the earlier fight or difficulties at school, the parents indicated that Benedict reported being picked upon for various reasons while at school,” he added.

A lawyer representing Benedict’s family and a rep for the Owasso Public School District did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.

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Following the tragedy, Owasso High School staged a walkout, with 40 students leaving class to protest his death — and the bullying policies students believe caused Benedict’s death. President Joe Biden shared a statement in March and said he and First Lady Jill Biden were “heartbroken” by Benedict’s death by suicide. “Every young person deserves to have the fundamental right and freedom to be who they are, and feel safe and supported at school and in their communities,” said the presidet. “Nex Benedict, a kid who just wanted to be accepted, should still be here with us today.”

Dial 988 in the US to reach the National Suicide Prevention LifelineThe Trevor Project, which provides help and suicide-prevention resources for LGBTQ youth, is 1-866-488-7386. Find other international suicide helplines at Befrienders Worldwide (befrienders.org).


A Tulsa County district attorney said that no charges will be filed in the fight that took place in the bathroom of an Oklahoma high school last month and involved 16-year-old Nex Benedict, whose death the following day was ruled a suicide.

District attorney Stephen A. Kunzweiler released a statement on his decision Thursday after reviewing the Owasso police’s investigation into Benedict’s death and the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s report, per the Associated Press.

“When I review a report and make a decision to file a charge I must be convinced — as is every prosecutor — that a crime was committed and that I have reasonable belief that a judge or jury would be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed,” wrote Kunzweiler. “From all the evidence gathered, this fight was an instance of mutual combat.”

Friends and family said Benedict used he and him pronouns as well as they and them pronouns; relatives he had been bullied over his gender identity. The teen’s death has drawn national attention as activists and trans students blamed the state’s antagonistic policies surrounding transgender students for the tragedy.

On Feb. 7, Benedict was involved in a fight with three older girls. The next day, the 10th grader collapsed at home and later died at a hospital. Last week, the Oklahoma Medical Examiners Office released a summary report that listed Benedict’s cause of death as suicide due to a combined toxicity from diphenhydramine and fluoxetine.

“An important part of the Owasso Police Department’s investigation was the discovery of some brief notes, written by Benedict, which appeared to be related to the suicide,” said Kunzweiler. “The precise contents of the suicide note are a personal matter which the family will have to address within the privacy of their own lives.”

“Although the notes do not make any reference to the earlier fight or difficulties at school, the parents indicated that Benedict reported being picked upon for various reasons while at school,” he added.

A lawyer representing Benedict’s family and a rep for the Owasso Public School District did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.

Trending

Following the tragedy, Owasso High School staged a walkout, with 40 students leaving class to protest his death — and the bullying policies students believe caused Benedict’s death. President Joe Biden shared a statement in March and said he and First Lady Jill Biden were “heartbroken” by Benedict’s death by suicide. “Every young person deserves to have the fundamental right and freedom to be who they are, and feel safe and supported at school and in their communities,” said the presidet. “Nex Benedict, a kid who just wanted to be accepted, should still be here with us today.”

Dial 988 in the US to reach the National Suicide Prevention LifelineThe Trevor Project, which provides help and suicide-prevention resources for LGBTQ youth, is 1-866-488-7386. Find other international suicide helplines at Befrienders Worldwide (befrienders.org).

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