Two Delaware high school girls have been charged with conspiracy in the death of a classmate following a fight in a school bathroom.
Zion Snow and Chakeira Wright were charged May 9 with third-degree conspiracy in the April 21 death of Amy Joyner-Francis, the Delaware Department of Justice announced. A third girl, 16-year-old Trinity Carr, was charged with criminally negligent homicide in Joyner-Francis’ death.
“The individuals responsible for Amy Joyner-Francis’s death are minors, but they must be held accountable for their actions. DOJ’s goal in making a charging decision was to ensure that those persons responsible for Amy’s death are held responsible to the maximum degree permissible by Delaware law,” the DOJ said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Snow & Wright Did Not Physically Assault Joyner-Francis, Prosecutors Say
Prosecutors said Zion Snow and Chakeira Wright did not physically assault Joyner-Francis during the planned confrontation. Trinity Carr is accused of hitting her with a closed fist in the head and torso, Delaware Online reports.
The fight was recorded on a cell phone video. You can see a screenshot below:
According to prosecutors, the video shows Carr leave the bathroom, while Joyner-Francis tries to stand-up, but seems disoriented and collapses to the floor. Medical help was then called.
2. The Girls Are Accused of Helping Plan the Attack in the 20 Hours Before the Fatal Assault
The trio planned the assault through written and oral communications in the 20 hours before the attack, prosecutors said in court documents, according to Delaware Online.
The three girls were suspended indefinitely in the immediate aftermath of the fight, but it took time for charges to be filed.
“Unlike TV, these (investigations) do take time,” Police Chief Bobby Cummings told reporters, according to Delaware Online. “There are over 3,000 print pages of data alone that must be painstakingly reviewed by investigators in this case.”
Initial reports indicated the fight was over a boy, but Joyner-Francis’ friends later disputed that. One of her friends, Kayla Sutrell, told Delaware Online that the victim said she was going to the bathroom on the morning of April 21 to “settle the beef.” Sutrell stressed the animosity had nothing to do with a boy.
Delaware Online reports that Joyner-Francis was rushed to A.I DuPont Hospital for Children in critical condition. She was pronounced dead en route.
The fight broke out after the bell rang and the students were in their classrooms. The school was dismissed after the incident.
3. Snow & Wright Will be Charged as Juveniles & Face Up to 1 Year in Prison
The third-degree conspiracy charge was the most serious charge authorities said they could file against Snow and Wright.
“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,” the attorney general’s press release said. “Third degree criminal conspiracy is punishable by up to one year in prison. Because neither Snow nor Wright have any prior juvenile arrests or convictions, and because they did not physically assault Amy, they will be tried as juveniles in Family Court.”
Prosecutors will seek to have Carr tried as an adult in Superior Court, “because of the severity of the offense,” the Department of Justice said in its press release.
She faces up to eight years in prison on the criminally negligent homicide charge.
4. Joyner-Francis Had a Heart Defect That Caused Her Death, the Medical Examiner Says
The Delaware medical examiner’s office determined Joyner-Francis’ cause of death was “sudden cardiac death due to large atrial septal defect,” the Department of Justice says.
The medical examiner’s office said a contributing factor was “physical and emotional stress due to physical assault.”
The Department of Justice said, “The autopsy did not detect any internal injuries or significant blunt force injuries. 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.”
5. Joyner-Francis Was Remembered as a ‘Sweet Girl’
Hundreds gathered to remember Amy Joyner-Francis on May 1 at St. Paul UAME Church in Wilmington, according to WPVI-TV.
“She was a really sweet girl,” classmate Carinna Vega told the news station. “It’s just like, wow. She’s gone, and she’s never going to come back.'”
In a card handed out at the memorial service, she was called “extremely beautiful, so very thoughtful, awesomely intelligent, very, very talented and definitely one of a kind,” Delaware Online reports.