It started out as an ugly case and concludes as one as well.
As a defense lawyer puts it, the case, even though his client has been exonerated, is "a tragedy all the way around.''
There is, counsel continues, "no winner in this case.''
We refer to the school bus confrontation and subsequent fatal stabbing of a Palmetto Ridge High School student by a classmate last year.
From the start, Jorge Saaveda, now 15, claimed Dylan Nuno, 16, was bullying and taunting him.
Saaveda even left the school bus that fateful day before his scheduled stop in order to avoid what turned out to be a fatal fight.
Circuit Judge Lauren Brodie, after listening to testimony from witnesses including fellow students, has ruled that Florida's Stand Your Ground Law applies to what took place. The law says the person who feels bullied or otherwise threatened is "legally entitled to meet force with force, even deadly force," Brodie ruled.
That means second-degree murder charges have been dropped.
We believe she followed the letter of the law and reached the correct legal conclusion.
We do, at the same time, wish she had issued her findings in open court rather than via paperwork during the holidays, leaving the news to leak out piece by piece. Brodie can be an effective communicator and an educational opportunity was missed to explain her conclusion and what she, as a community member and youth-projects leader, believes ought to happen next.
We believe her ruling should serve as the beginning rather than the end of public discussion about bullying and Stand Your Ground.
We hope that the "tragedy all the way around'' impression prevails over any leap to perceive the coast is clear to use lethal force at will — and that doing so is glamorous and heroic.
There still is room for peaceful conflict resolution and programs for adults in authority to make clear that troubled youth can bring forward problems before they spin out of control.
Bullying is remains a vexing community problem. It can take many forms — in person and online.
We call on educators, law enforcement officials and parents/guardians to talk with young people about this case and others like it. What does Stand Your Ground mean now and into the future? We need to define that so more tragedy, as the lawyer rightly called it, is not a result.