The judge also convicted a second girl of conspiracy in the 16-year-old’s death, but acquitted a third teen of the same charge.
The victim and the defendants were student at Howard High School of Technology at the time. All three defendants, who were 16 when the fight happened in April of 2016, were tried as juveniles.
Judge Robert Coonin ruled last year that the teen charged with negligient homicide would be tried as a juvenile. She would have faced up to eight years in prison if she was tried as an adult. Because she was considered a juvenile delinquent, Trinity Carr would be subject to supervision until age 19.
The medical examiner had ruled that Amy Joyner-Francis died of sudden cardiac death, aggravated by stress from the fight at Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington, Delaware.
However cardiologists across the country were of the opinion that the Delaware teen died because of the brutal attack during the high school bathroom beating, not from her failing heart condition.
Prosecutors said the three teens charged in the fatal assault of 16-year-old Amy Inita Joyner-Francis were to blame for triggering a cardiac arrest during the attack due to her large atrial septal defect.
The principal aggressor, Trinity Carr, was charged with criminally negligent homicide, but experts across the country suggested she should have been facing stiffer charges, with the possibility of a harsher punishment because Joyner-Francis died from the beatdown, not from her heart condition.
“Atrial septal defect is not a cause of sudden death,” Dr. Samuel Gidding, chief of cardiology for Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children said in an interview with the News Journal.
Amy Joyner-Francis [left]
The brutal beatdown session was recorded and streamed
Prosecutors initially wanted to throw the book at the gang of three
Prosecutors initially wanted to charge Carr [left], Snow [top right], and Wright as adults. Eventually all three were tried as juveniles
However, defense lawyers countered that the victim’s death was unforeseeable, as Joyner-Francis had a rare heart condition undetected by her doctors. They also suggested it was a fight between “mutual combatants.”
Prosecutors said the 10th grader from New Castle was not looking for a fight but trying to avoid one.
“Distress, the unexpected nature of the attack, the brute ferocity of it raining upon her, all led to Amy’s death,” deputy attorney general Sean Lugg said during closing arguments. He said the assailant showed “a level of barbarism that reasonably would result in the outcome.”
During the bathroom beating, Carr had repeatedly bashed the victim’s head and body, until Joyner-Francis collapsed on the ground, according to court documents. She was found unconscious and went into cardiac arrest after the beatdown.
One witness said she was in a stall when the brawl erupted.
“She was fighting a girl, and then that’s when all these other girls started banking her – like jumping her – and she hit her head on the sink.”
Some other students wrote that the fight was over the boy and that it was possible one or more students recorded the sickening attack.
“a young lady who will never see another day because hher life was taken for granted,” wrote one.
“May the 6 girls who killed this innocent soul over a boy get arrested and rot in jail for life,” wrote another.
The unconscious Amy was transported by medevac to DuPont Children’s Hospital in critical condition. She never recovered from the cardiac arrest
According to court documents examined by Delaware Online, the three 16-year-olds planned the assault through written and oral communications in the 20 hours before the attack, prosecutors were bent on trying Carr as an adult, advocating the maximum punishment allowed, for all three responsible defendants.
Despite the skepticism surrounding the medical examiner’s cause of death, Delaware’s Department of Justice elected to go by the ME’s report, deciding that: “The autopsy did not detect any internal injuries or significant blunt force injuries,” the dept said in a statement.
if she was tried as an adult, Carr faced eight years in prison if convicted. Her two alleged accomplices, Zion Snow and Chakeira Wright reportedly, did not land any blows on Joyner-Francis. They were charged with criminal conspiracy for setting up the deadly beating, and faced up to a year behind bars.
Family Court Judge Robert Coonin delivered the ruling Thursday following a week of testimony in the non-jury trial. All three girls charged in the case chose not to testify.
Coonin ruled last year that the girl charged with homicide would be tried as a juvenile. She would have faced up to eight years in prison if she was tried as an adult.
Being declared delinquent, she would be subject to supervision until age 19.