WILMINGTON, Del. (WJZ) — A year after a deadly attack took place inside a high school bathroom in Delaware, a judge found two teenagers guilty of separate roles in the crime.
A 17-year-old girl was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide. The other was found guilty of conspiracy.
An autopsy found that 16-year-old Amy Joyner-Francis had a rare, diagnosed heart condition, and died of sudden cardiac death, aggravated by physical and emotional stress from the April 2016 fight at Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington.
“At the end of the day, you cannot brutalize someone, pummel someone in the bathroom and lead to their death and there’s no consequence for that action,” Sherry Dorsey Walker, a spokesperson for Amy’s family, tells WJZ.
The family sat silently as the judge ruled the teen shown beating Amy in cell phone video ultimately caused her death.
Prosecutors described the attack, which the second teen was found guilty of helping to plan, as barbaric.
The defense argued the teens may have anticipated the bathroom attack could end in discipline, but not death.
The tragic case has shaken the Wilmington community to its core.
“Our high school, this is supposed to be a place of education and where our role models and our future is supposed to come from, and I just can’t understand why it happens now,” says Linwood Banks.
It’s possible neither girl will see jail time because they were both tried as juveniles. They are both set to go back to court late next month for sentencing.
“From the very moment this occurred there has been a great deal of confusion as to how this would happen,” says defense attorney for the girl found guilty of homicide, John Deckers. “I told her she’ll be fine. She has a family. She’s a good child. This is the first fight she has ever gotten in to.”
People who live near the school tell WJZ, they don’t know if the punishment will send a strong enough message. Prosecutors, meanwhile, hope it at least brings healing.
“That sense of normalcy I hope will soon return to that school,” says Deputy Attorney General Sean Lugg.
A third teen also faced conspiracy charges in the case and was found not guilty.
All three girls charged in the case opted not to testify.