Charges filed against H.S. girls involved in fight include homicide, conspiracy

Three female high school students in Delaware are facing charges after being involved in a fight in a Howard High School bathroom that resulted in the death of a 16-year old girl.

On Monday, Department of Justice prosecutors and a Wilmington Police Department detective met with the mother and older brother of Amy Joyner-Francis to discuss with them the charges that would be brought against the three students in connection with the incident that led to the death of Joyner-Francis on April 21, 2016.

The girls responsible for Amy Joyner-Francis’s death are minors, but the DOJ said they must be held accountable for their actions. DOJ’s goal in making a charging decision was to ensure that those persons responsible for Joyner-Francis’ death are held responsible to the maximum degree permissible by Delaware law.

In reviewing all of the evidence gathered to date, there were two facts about the case that were significant in determining the charges that could be brought. First, the medical examiner’s office ruled that Joyner-Francis’ cause of death was sudden cardiac death because of a large atrial septal defect with a contributing factor of physical and emotional stress because of physical assault. The autopsy did not detect any internal injuries or significant blunt force injuries.

To simplify the findings, the medical examiner determined that the girl 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 had she not been assaulted.

The second fact that was significant in making the decision to charge the teens is that all of the evidence indicates that although three girls were involved in planning a confrontation with Joyner-Francis on April 21, only one girl – Trinity Carr – actually hit Joyner-Francis.

Because of this, the charges against two of the three girls involved in the incident do not involve actually striking her.

Based on these facts and other facts gathered from the investigation, Carr, 16, was charged Monday with criminally negligent homicide, an offense punishable by up to eight years in prison. The DOJ will also seek permission from family court to have Carr declared non-amenable to family court proceedings because of the severity of her offense and tried as an adult in Superior Court.

The other two girls, Zion Snow and Chakeira Wright, were charged Monday with criminal conspiracy in connection with the incident in the Howard High bathroom. Delaware law does not allow for a charge of conspiracy to commit negligent homicide, therefore, Snow and Wright were charged with third degree criminal conspiracy, which is the highest level of criminal conspiracy allowed by law given the facts of this case. Third degree criminal conspiracy is punishable by up to one year in prison.

Because neither Snow or Wright have prior juvenile arrests or convictions and because they did not physically assault Joyner-Francis, they will be tried as juveniles in Family Court.