On April 21, 16-year-old Amy Inita Joyner-Francis was brutally beaten by three girls in the bathroom of a Wilmington, Delaware high school. Suffering multiple blows to the face and chest, Amy was hurriedly transported to a nearby hospital, where she later died.
The senseless attack shook the community of Wilmington and had many residents and city officials calling for harsh punishments for the three girls involved. Well, that day has finally arrived. The Delaware Attorney General’s office announced the charges against the teens Monday, The Associated Press reports. The charges were first reviewed with Amy’s mother and brother.
According to The News Journal, Trinity Carr, 16, who can be seen in a cell phone video of the attack repeatedly punching Amy, will be charged with criminally negligent homicide. The crime is punishable by up to eight years in prison. Carr is the only girl who physically hit the Howard High School sophomore. The other two teens, Zion Snow and Chakeira Wright, are charged with third-degree criminal conspiracy and could spend up to one year behind bars, the news publication also states.
“The individuals responsible for Amy Joyner-Francis’s death are minors, but they must be held accountable for their actions,” the state Department of Justice said in a statement.
The News Journal reports that Amy didn’t die from injuries she sustained in the fight, as previously thought, but from a pre-existing heart condition worsened by the attack. The Delaware medical examiner’s office played a large part in determining the criminal charges and say the autopsy revealed that Amy experienced “sudden cardiac death due to large atrial septal defect with a contributing factor of physical and emotional stress due to physical assault.”
“In layman’s terms, the Medical Examiner determined that Amy died from a cardiac incident that she was vulnerable to because of a pre-existing heart condition, but the cardiac incident would not have occurred if she had not been assaulted,” a statement from the DOJ read.
According to court documents, phone communication between the three girls show that they planned the altercation 20 hours before. They followed Amy into the girl’s bathroom the following morning and assaulted her, the court papers state.
Delaware Law School professor, Judith Ritter, describes Carr’s charge as a “low level homicide” and says the teens probably weren’t charged with murder because they didn’t think the assault would result in death.
“It sounds like the facts may not support proof that the assailant, or assailants, intended to kill her,” Ritter said. “They probably intended to hurt her, but she died.”
Mahkeib Booker, a Delaware man who established a local chapter of Black Lives Matter last year, said he thinks the punishment fits the crime. He said he would have been upset if the teens were charged with murder, as there isn’t any proof that they purposely tried to kill Amy.
“I used to jump the gun and say sentence them,” Booker said. “But I have to really look at their background and check their upbringing, who created the type of environment that would make them want to bully and beat people.”
According to Superintendent Vicki Gehrt, the New Castle County Vo-Tech School District plans to “follow through with necessary actions for the students involved in the incident based on the school district’s Code of Conduct.”
Dennis P. Williams, the Mayor of Wilmington, issued a statement Monday addressing the tragic Howard High School incident and said the Wilmington Police Department, in conjunction with the DOJ, worked tirelessly to determine the appropriate charges.
“This is just the first step toward providing Amy’s family and our community with closure,” he said. “As this process moves forward, I ask that we keep the family and loved ones of everyone involved in our thoughts and prayers.”
A memorial service was held for Amy on May 1 at the St. Paul UAME Church in Wilmington, The News Journal reports. Bookmark-sized cards featuring a picture of the late teen were passed out to those in attendance.
“You are simply marvelous my dear!!!” read the memorial cards written by Amy’s mother. “Hugs and smooches, you will be my heart always and forever, my beautiful sweetpea.”