WELD COUNTY, Colo. — The college student convicted of providing alcohol to a minor who died after jumping off a second story balcony was sentenced to two years probation Tuesday.
Kyle Riley’s conviction was based on the death of Ross Higuchi, 18, a University of Northern Colorado freshman. Higuchi died after he jumped off a second-story balcony at the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house during a post-initiation party on April 16.
Higuchi jumped following a heated debate with fraternity members about damage to a door, which those fraternity members said Higuchi would have to pay for.
Higuchi’s blood-alcohol content level at the time of his death was .286. Riley, 22, admitted to providing Higuchi with the alcohol, which a prosecutor argued to Weld County judge Michele Meyer should be a “mitigating factor” in Riley’s sentence.
That sentence could have been as severe as 18 months in jail.
Riley, who was sentenced to 200 hours of community service in addition to two years probation, was remorseful and succinct at the sentencing.
“I’d like to apologize to the Higuchi family,” he said. “I broke the law. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Higuchi’s mother, Janile Higuchi, was emotional as she spoke about the death of her son, saying her daughter is still so upset “it’s like I lost two children,” and that her husband “often wakes up screaming Ross’ name.”
Speaking directly to Riley, Janile thanked him for going to police and said “I do not want you to go to jail because it wouldn’t solve anything.”
Instead, Janile said, she hoped Riley would spread this story to local high school students.
“Every year we hear of preventable tragedies,” Janile said. “This was preventable.”