WILMINGTON, Del. — A Delaware judge has rejected the option of trying a 16-year-old Delaware girl as an adult after a vicious bathroom fight caught on video left one of her classmates dead.
That video, which was posted on Snapchat, was played at a Family Court hearing for the teen charged in 16-year-old Amy Joyner-Francis’ death, according to the Associated Press. The judge announced August 19 the teen will be tried in Family Court, on charges of negligent homicide and conspiracy.
The defendant, whose isn’t being named because of her age, is accused of conspiring with two other girls to attack Joyner-Francis in a bathroom at Wilmington’s Howard High School of Technology on April 21.
The attack was apparently planned in response to a group text message in which one of Joyner-Francis’ friends asked the group for advice about a boy, according to the News Journal. Joyner-Francis replied that she should be “careful” and wrote that they would have her back, Wilmington police detective Thomas Curley testified. The three defendants were later added to the group chat and became angry after thinking the statement was directed at them, Curley said.
Cellphone video taken the morning of the fight by one of the other two students shows the defendant repeatedly striking Amy in the head and torso area with her fist, prosecutors said Monday. Joyner-Francis’ fingernails were ripped out during the brawl, an autopsy found.
A math teacher found Joyner-Francis bloodied and disoriented, struggling to get up as her three alleged attackers walked out out of the restroom giggling, Curley testified.
“They jumped me,” she told the teacher, “They snuck me.” Those were her last words, according to Curley.
She went into cardiac arrest shortly after. According to an autopsy, it was revealed that Joyner-Francis had a pre-existing heart defect that led to her death. Prosecutors argued that, despite the heart condition, she would not have died had the attack not taken place.
They testified that the defendant showed no remorse after the fight or upon learning Joyner-Francis had died. “Somebody else must have kicked her. … Well they’re not going to put this on me,” the girl said, according to court documents.
The defense called a clinical psychologist to testify in a bid to keep the 16-year-old’s trial in Family Court, which would open the possibility of a sentence of community supervision. Psychologist Robin Belcher-Timme said the defendant, who has no prior record, doesn’t present a high risk of future violence. Belcher-Timme also testified that she is responding well to counseling and doesn’t appear to have any personality disorders.
While the defendant’s school attendance and grades have suffered over the past year, he called her issues “correctable behavior,” and added that the trial is an “opportunity to intervene.”