3 charged in death of Amy Joyner-Francis at Howard High

A 16-year-old girl died after she was assaulted at Howard High School of Technology. (Photo: Delaware Free News)
A 16-year-old girl died after she was assaulted at Howard High School of Technology. (Photo: Delaware Free News)

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE (5/9/2016) Three girls were charged today in connection with the death of 16-year-old Amy Joyner-Francis last month at Howard High School of Technology, the Delaware Department of Justice announced.

While Joyner-Francis died after being assaulted in a bathroom on April 21, the Division of Forensic Science found the cause of death was sudden cardiac arrest due to large atrial septal defect with a contributing factor of physical and emotional stress due to physical assault, according to the Justice Department statement.

“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,” said Justice Department spokesman Carl Kanefsky.

He said the autopsy did not find any internal injuries or significant blunt force injuries.

While three girls were involved in planning a confrontation with Joyner-Francis, Kanefsky said, only one actually hit Amy and faces the most serious charge.

Trinity Carr, 16, was charged with criminally negligent homicide, which has a maximum sentence of eight years in prison. Prosecutors will ask Family Court to have her case moved to Superior Court and try her as an adult due to the severity of the charge.

The other two girls, Zion Snow and Chakeira Wright, were charged with third-degree criminal conspiracy, “the highest level of criminal conspiracy allowed by law given the facts of this case,” Kanefsky said. If convicted, they could face up to a 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,” Kanefsky said.

“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,” he said.

Kanefsky said prosecutors and a Wilmington police detective met with the mother and older brother of Joyner-Francis today to discuss  the charges being brought against the three girls.