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Statement of the Delaware Department of Justice on Criminal Charges Associated With the Death of Howard High School Student Amy Joyner-Francis

Date Posted: Monday, May 9th, 2016
Categories:  Criminal Department of Justice DOJ Press Releases

Earlier today, 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 three Howard High School students in connection with the incident that led to the death of Amy Joyner-Francis on April 21, 2016.

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.

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 has ruled that Amy’s cause of death was sudden cardiac death due to large atrial septal defect with a contributing factor of physical and emotional stress due to physical assault. 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.

The second fact that was significant in making a charging decision is that all of the evidence indicates that although three girls were involved in planning a confrontation with Amy on April 21, only one girl – Trinity Carr – actually hit Amy. Therefore, the charges against two of the three girls involved in the incident do not involve actually striking Amy.

Based on these facts and other facts gathered from the investigation, Trinity Carr (age 16) was charged earlier today with Criminally Negligent Homicide. Criminally Negligent Homicide is punishable by up to eight years in prison. DOJ will also seek permission from Family Court to have Trinity Carr declared non-amenable to Family Court proceedings because of the severity of her offense, and tried as an adult in the Superior Court.

The other two girls, Zion Snow and Chakeira Wright, were charged earlier today 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 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.

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