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Heart Condition to Blame Not Bathroom Fight in Death of Delaware Teen, Parents Challenge Report

16-year-old Amy Joyner Francis, the Delaware teen who died after a bathroom fight at school. Photo courtesy of Instagram

Amy-Joyner Francis, 16, died after a bathroom fight at her high school in Delaware. Photo courtesy of Instagram

One week following the announcement of criminal charges filed against three girls involved in the death of Amy Joyner-Francis, the teen’s family is disputing the autopsy results that ultimately led to the lenient criminal charges.

Amy, 16, died after she was reportedly attacked and beaten by three girls in a Howard High School of Technology bathroom.

Delaware’s WDEL reports that Amy’s family is upset with the charges brought against the girls responsible for the high school sophomore’s death.

“The family is feeling like there’s not a lot of justice with these charges,” said Sherry Dorsey Walker, a spokeswoman for the family and Wilmington City Councilwoman running for lieutenant governor. “They understand that there are other families affected by this situation, but their family is the one that will never see their daughter again.”

According to WDEL, Trinity Carr, 16, was charged with criminally negligent homicide. Prosecutors are looking to try her as an adult, as she was the only who physically hit Amy during the fight.  She could face up to eight years behind bars if convicted, according to CBS News. Zion Snow and Chakiera Wright, the other two teens involved, were charged with conspiracy for helping plan the deadly attack.

The Joyner-Francis family expected harsh punishments for the three girls but got the opposite when an autopsy revealed that Amy ultimately died from a pre-existing heart condition exacerbated by the altercation. According to the medical examiner, Amy had an atrial septal defect, which is basically a hole in the heart, reports. Officials concluded that the attack caused her to suffer a fatal cardiac episode.

During an interview with WDEL, Dorsey Walker said the Joyner-Francis family believes the autopsy report is erroneous and resulted in mild charges for the three perpetrators.

“That heart condition…that the ME (medical examiner) referenced, Amy had that since birth, and it really healed itself,” Dorsey Walker told the news station. “And so now we’re going to blame her death on a heart condition when it was a school fight that…led to hear death. It was the physical assault that led to her death — not her heart condition.”

Dr. Samuel Gidding, chief of cardiology for Nemours/A.I duPont Hospital for Children, agrees. Per Delaware online, the cardiologist says he has never heard of any atrial septal defect cases resulting in death.

“Atrial septal defect is not a cause of sudden death,” Gidding said.

Chair of the American College of Cardiology’s Adult Congenital and Pediatric Council, Dr. Robert H. Beekman, confirmed that atrial septal defects are common, but rarely ever cause problems in younger people.

“Oftentimes, medical examiners, when they discover there is a congenital problem, will be willing to attribute the outcome to that problem and it may or may not be the case,” Beekman explained to Delaware Online.

Dorsey Walker confirmed that the teen’s family has been in contact with four other cardiologists, who have all refuted the medical examiner’s conclusion. The Joyner-Francis family will also request a second, independent autopsy, WDEL reports.

“Amy was killed in the bathroom by the young ladies…I don’t believe those young ladies intended to kill Amy, and I’d like to make sure the family does not believe that, but it happened,” Dorsey Walker said. “And so there’s always consequences to behaviors that aren’t positive.”

All three girls girls involved in Amy’s death are currently out on bond, WDEL reports. Carr is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.


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