Verdict In On Amy Joyner-Francis Murder: Carr and Snow Guilty, Wright Not Guilty

Almost a year since Amy Joyner-Francis was viciously beaten in the Howard High School of Technology bathroom and died as a result of those injuries, the verdict was delivered this morning against her assaulters.  Trinity Carr was found guilty of both third-degree criminally negligent homicide and criminal conspiracy.  Zion Snow also got the third-degree criminal conspiracy verdict.  Chakeira Wright was found not guilty because of a lack of substantial evidence suggesting she was involved in the conspiracy to attack Joyner-Francis.  It was also revealed she attempted to pull Carr off Amy during the assault.

Delaware Family Court Judge Robert Coonin read the verdict this morning.  I can’t say I like this verdict.  I never liked the official “cause of death” and found it to serve the girls who killed Amy more than the cause of justice.  None of this will bring Amy back.

The final decision can be read below:

Amy Joyner-Francis’ Murder Trial Reveals Huge Escalation In Fights At Howard High School

As the News Journal reported today, Howard High School experienced more than double the amount of fights between 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.

During cross-examination of Ursula McCoy, an 8-year faculty veteran at Howard who had worked in the discipline office, Deckers established that violent incidents more than doubled at Howard between the 2014-2015 school year and the 2015-2016 year.  There were 46 reports of violence last year, compared with 20 the year before.

Upon questioning from Deckers, McCoy said “there may be times when (fights) are not reported.”

Sorry Ms. McCoy, when it comes to fighting, all of them should be reported.  It is the law.  It is NOT let’s cherry-pick what is and isn’t a fight.  If the school determines it is a fight, it is a fight.  By failing to report that information to the state, YOU are breaking the law.  Notice the article said she “had worked in the discipline office”.  Why doesn’t she anymore?

I still don’t buy Trinity Carr’s excuse that she couldn’t have known the fight could lead to Amy Joyner-Francis’ death.  She and her friends beat her senseless.  At the very least, they should have known it would cause some type of trauma to her.  But no, we get her attorney defending someone who killed a girl.  I know, it is his job to defend her, but come on!  This was a planned fight.  Kids and teenagers say dumb things, no doubt about it.  I don’t know if that was the case with all this and it really doesn’t matter.  You don’t beat someone until they die because of it.

As for the school not reporting all their fights, I really hope they have learned their lesson and the state makes sure they did.  There is no reason not to report fighting no matter what the reasoning might be.  Some folks say get rid of the Delaware Department of Education, but I believe they are a necessary entity to make sure things like this are reported.  As well with special education issues and things of that sort.  There needs to be ramifications when a school admits in a major trial they didn’t report incidents of violence.  That will bring little solace to the family of Amy Joyner-Francis, but it should be a wake-up call to every single school in this state.  Perhaps if all the fighting were reported it would bring more interventions into a school if the reporting is done with fidelity.

 

16 Who Defined 2016: Amy Joyner-Francis

amy-joyner-francis

April 21st was a very dark day for Delaware.  Amy Joyner-Francis was beaten in a bathroom at Howard Technical High School in Wilmington leading to her death shortly after.  Delaware didn’t have a death like this in one of our schools since 1973.  For weeks, Delaware citizens felt the impact of Amy’s death.

What happened to Amy that day led to much-needed discussion about school safety and climate in The First State.  The perpetrators of the incident, Trinity Carr, Zion Snow, and Chakeira Wright faced criminal charges.  Snow and Wright were charged as conspirators while primary charges were filed against Carr but a judge ruled she would be tried as a juvenile.  The trial will take place in April 2017.  Many Delaware citizens felt the charges against Carr should have been bigger.  At a maximum, if found guilty of criminally negligent homicide, Carr, 16, would face community service and therapy until the age of 19.

The cause of death ruled by the medical examiner kicked off controversy.  The examiner ruled that Amy had a pre-existing heart condition which led to her death, not the severe beating she received from Carr.  Many in the field disputed these findings.

The most disturbing part about Amy’s death was the fact that many students watched this go down in a high school bathroom and did nothing.  By the time a teacher got there, it was too late for Amy.  Not touched on by major media was the fact that school monitors did not respond to the situation fast enough (if at all) and that most teachers were involved in a training class at the time of the incident.  Governor Markell issued a brief response to the murder as he went on his “Common Core Tour” at a Delaware school far away from the crime.  The New Castle County Vo-Tech School District held a press conference hours after the death proclaiming that their schools were safe.

In the first week of the incident, conflicting reports about what happened flooded online media, including this blog.  Debates over what happened, and some tried to profit off Amy’s death.  As her family and friends struggled to deal with her death, the media onslaught continued.  News quickly came out that the beating was filmed by students along with pictures taken on cell phones.  An entire state grieved for Amy.  For Amy, her life was tragically cut short in an environment where this should have never happened.  Over seven months later, her death still makes no sense…

I ask that all continue to pray for Amy’s family and friends as they face the holidays, especially her parents.  No parent should outlive their child and it is a weight that will never leave them.

Judge Sends A Dangerous Message In Carr Ruling For Amy’s Murder & The District’s Role In The Events

While a judge’s ruling in how Amy Joyner-Francis’ murderer will be tried sparks controversy, the role the New Castle County Vo-Tech School District may have played has been silent and ignored.

According to The News Journal last Friday, Delaware Family Court Judge Robert Coonin made a ruling in how Trinity Carr will be tried in the murder of Amy Joyner-Francis, the high school student who died after an assault at Howard High School of Technology.  Carr will be tried as a juvenile, not an adult.  In most likelihood, the maximum sentence Carr would receive, if found guilty, would be “community supervision and treatment until age 19” as per the News Journal article written by Jessica Massulli Reyes.

Judge Coonin also ruled Amy’s fingernails were more likely ripped out trying to fend the attack as the video showed her grabbing Carr as her murderer was being pulled away from her.  Coonin said there was insufficient evidence to suggest Carr lacked remorse because she did not know she had killed Amy after the fight.

None of this will likely give Amy’s family any feeling of justice.  I am very uncomfortable with Carr essentially walking the streets.  Her actions, and I don’t care what anyone says about a pre-existing condition that is suspect at best, led to the death of a sweet teenager.  Carr’s Sunday School activity doesn’t erase her actions that day.  No, I don’t think Carr should get the death penalty, but this sends a bad message to the youth of Delaware.  A very dangerous and bad message.

The heart of the ruling deals with Carr’s age.  She is sixteen years old.  Technically, she is a minor.  The Delaware Attorney General’s Office had extreme issues with the planning that went on before the assault on Amy.  The length of the assault, the viciousness of it, and the physical results of the attack were foremost in their mind in issuing charges.  Revealed at Carr’s first hearing on the matter was the unrevealed pulling out of Amy’s fingernails.  Coonin ruled they were a result of Amy trying to protect herself based on video footage.  While this could be true, it also points out a desperation on Amy’s part to save herself.  Which swings back around to the viciousness of the attack.

We have heard the tales of “bloodlust” in people.  Where they go beyond the point of reason and brutal savagery takes over.  I have to believe that most people make a conscious choice to cross that line in their mind.  What Carr did is not a normal choice unless she made certain decisions during the timeline of events.  This was planned in advance, the day before.  But there are situations where she may not have been able to make that final choice where rage took over.  Coonin’s ruling gives teenagers a very false idea that they could get away with something like this.  While it is my fervent hope it would not, the minds of teenagers are very different than those of an adult.  I highly doubt this would come out even if it were the case, but what if Carr has a disability?  What if she was on medication that had an adverse affect on the neurology of her brain?  I have no idea if this is the case or not, I am merely questioning a possibility.  While this would not justify her final actions in my mind because of the premeditation behind it, this could potentially lead to important questions that need to be addressed.

How aware was the school of the feud between Carr and Amy?  Should they have been aware?  As part of our bullying laws in Delaware, social media is addressed in those laws.  But how much monitoring of that social media takes place?  No one can see everything at once.  That would be impossible.  But one thing I haven’t ever heard is the possibility of having a school narc to monitor things like this, especially in schools where there are higher incidents of fights and inappropriate touching.  Someone who could keep abreast of things like this.  Hearing the buzz so to speak and acting on it.  There have been narc’s for drugs in schools.  Why not bullying or threats that result in vicious fights or, as an extreme, a student’s death.

What is the school’s role in this tragedy?  I’ve reported before that many teachers at Howard High School of Technology were involved in professional development that morning.  While not completely verified, the role of hall monitors has been very spotty at this school according to several sources wishing to remain anonymous.  Yes, testimony has come out that a teacher did get to the bathroom and heard Amy’s final words.  But how much time elapsed between the point when a bunch of students were running into a bathroom, Carr confronted Amy, pulled her by the hair into a bathroom stall, Amy resisted, and Carr was able to punch and kick Amy over twenty times?  This is something the school would know.  But they aren’t talking.  Some of that could be because this is a criminal investigation and they simply can’t talk about it.  But I have to believe that if teachers were present, and not in professional development at 8 or 8:30 in the morning, this tragedy could have been averted.  I don’t blame the teachers for this, I blame the administration.  While the true fault lies with Carr, the school’s actions, while intentional or not, did lead to Amy’s death.  And this is the thing no one else is talking about publicly.  If this were outside of school, this wouldn’t even be an issue.  But this happened inside a school building, filled with adults.

While I tend to doubt the New Castle County Vo-Tech School District would ever publicly address this aspect to Amy’s death, I sincerely hope this evolves into discussions with their board and district staff.  It may have already happened.  There is a public task force on school safety happening in Delaware.  I hope changes occur that would allow for something like this to never happen again, not only in their schools, but all Delaware schools.  We owe it to Amy, and all those who have been victim to any kind of vicious assault or murder, to try.  If anything like this could be in any way prevented by the local school authority, we need to look at all scheduling aspects, how much security we may or may not need in our schools, and some type of apparatus to watch student’s actions to see if a crisis could happen.  This is something our schools should have always been doing.  It should not take the death of Amy to finally make our students the safest they can possibly be.

The School Safety Committee is meeting tonight at the Friends of Woodlawn Library, 2020 W. 9th St., in Wilmington, Delaware, at 6pm.  While I am unable to make it, and I know this is late notice, but I would try to attend if you can.  Don’t be afraid to give public comment.  Someone’s life could very well depend on it.

Hearing Gives Details About The Amy Joyner-Francis Murder With Victim’s Last Words

They jumped me.  They snuck me. -the last words from Amy Joyner-Francis

Yesterday, a Family Court hearing in Delaware convened to decide whether or not Trinity Carr should be tried as an adult in the murder of Amy-Joyner Francis.  Disturbing evidence came out during the hearing solidifying the theory that Carr,  Zion Snow, and Chakeira Wright planned the attack for 20 hours before the fight.

The News Journal gave a very gruesome detailing of the outcome of the paragraph in their lead which appeared in print today:

A fatal attack in which Howard High School of Technology sophomore Amy Inita Joyner-Francis was punched in the head two dozen times and had her fingernails ripped out started because of a group text message, a Wilmington police detective said in court Monday.

The State News did not mention the fingernails being ripped out in their lead, but did give more weight to the blows against Amy…

A cellphone video of a high school restroom fight that left a 16-year-old Delaware girl dead shows the victim on the ground, struggling to fight back and escape as she is repeatedly hit and kicked in the head while her assailant holds on to her hair.

If I had to guess, the part about the fingernails played a huge role in the decision of prosecutors to try Carr as an adult.   This was a very vicious and brutal attack.  For someone to drag a teenager by the hair, punch and kick her in the head over twenty times, and tear out her fingernails… that takes a viciousness and callousness with an intent to seriously harm or kill someone.  But what astonished me even more was the fact that a math teacher, who found Amy in the bathroom and heard her last words, had to run to get a nurse.  Where were all the students who witnessed a classmate getting seriously hurt to the eventual point of death?  Why did none of them, upon witnessing this scene, run to grab a nurse?

Details emerged, according to The News Journal article, that Carr showed no remorse upon learning of Amy’s death…

Deputy Attorney General Theresa Sedevic, however, said that even after Carr learned of her death at the Wilmington police station hours later, Carr blamed Joyner-Francis for the attack and was upset only that the incident would mess up her chances of getting a nursing degree.

The murder occurred inside a Delaware school, Howard High School of Technology.  A source within the district, who wished to remain anonymous, told me the district pretends like the murder never happened.  No one talks about it.  This source felt like the New Castle County Vo-Tech district moved on and forgot about what happened.

I have never bought this bad theory that an unknown heart condition was the cause of her death.  Amy died because someone killed her.  Plain and simple.  Even though the articles talked about how Carr has received counseling and is making progress, it doesn’t erase what she did.  She planned to hurt Amy.  She killed Amy.  She needs to be tried as an adult and given an appropriate sentencing for an adult if found guilty.  Why is Carr allowed to travel out of state when she has been accused of murder?  Why is she allowed to teach Sunday School to kids at a church in Philadelphia?  But more importantly, why is she under homebound instruction which is paid for by the school district?  Does this mean Carr was not expelled from the school district after murdering a classmate in a bathroom?  What kind of message does that send to Amy’s parents when not even the school district could bring even an iota of justice to their daughter’s murder?  Students have been expelled from Delaware schools for much less.  None of this makes sense.

None of this will bring Amy back to her family who misses their daughter every single day.  There is no such thing as justice when you lose a loved one like this.  Nothing will bring their daughter back.

The Judge in the case is expected to render a decision on how Carr will be tried by the end of next week according to The State News article.

My Thoughts On The Charges Against Amy’s Murderer And The Accomplices

As I’m sure most of America has heard, the Delaware Department of Justice filed charges against three teenagers involved in Amy Joyner-Francis’ murder two and a half weeks ago at Howard High School of Technology.  There is absolutely no mention of Amy’s head being slammed into the bathroom sink even though some reports stated that at the onset.  Only one girl, Trinity Carr, actually hit Amy.  She has been charged with criminally-negligent homicide.  The other two helped plan the assault up to twenty hours earlier.  But the true shocker was that Amy had a pre-existing heart condition.

According to the News Journal article linked above:

Investigators determined that the fight was a planned confrontation in the girl’s bathroom, but only one girl – 16-year-old Trinity Carr – actually hit Amy that day, according to a statement by the DOJ. The fight was filmed, according to court documents, and shows Carr hitting Amy repeatedly in the head and torso area with “what what appears to be a closed fist.”

The video then shows Carr leave and Amy attempt to stand up from the floor, according to court documents. Amy then appears disoriented, court papers say, and collapses back to the floor. When paramedics found her, she was unresponsive and went into cardiac arrest shortly after.

Knowing what really happened won’t take away the pain and sadness surrounding all this.  It won’t bring back Amy who apparently didn’t know this was coming.  Just a sweet, innocent teenage girl going to school one day.  The question is how many others knew about it.  I am still upset no one else in that bathroom intervened.  I’m assuming her heart condition was private as that has never been mentioned before.  If the intent was there to do bodily harm to Amy, what did Carr think would happen?  While they may not have planned actual murder, how is this “criminally negligent”?  Our justice systems works in funny ways.  Why did it take two and a half weeks when the police had the video the entire time to arrest Carr?  At the very least, the evidence clearly shows an assault.

Trinity Carr, Zion Snow, and Chakeira Wright will have to live with what they did every single day for the rest of their life.  Carr will most likely spend what should be some of the best years of her life in prison.  Snow and Wright will probably be in juvenile detention while their classmates are going to the prom and graduating.  But no amount of justice will ever make any of this alright.  Amy will never have the opportunity for any of those things.  I really hope this is a wake-up call for all of us in Delaware.  We need to make sure this never happens again, and that includes the adults.

Tim Furlong with NBC Philadelphia gave a bit more detail about what happened after the fight:

After the fight, Joyner-Francis complained about head and chest pain. A school resource officer called 911 and Joyner-Francis lost consciousness before medics arrived. CPR was performed as she was flown to a nearby children’s hospital. She later died at the hospital.

Where was this school resource officer during the fight?  I understand fights can happen fast, but where were any adults during this assault?  That is the question no one is asking.  I challenged the district about this a couple of weeks ago.  It was important to clarify their board meeting change, but in regards to my other concerns, they completely ignored them.  Last week I saw the Superintendent of the district for Howard High School, Dr. Gehrt.  She knows who I am cause I’ve seen her at many meetings where I gave public comment.  I saw her at the assessment inventory meeting at the Delaware DOE.  Usually she gives me a smile.  At this meeting, she could only scowl at me.  I’ll take my lumps where I get them.  But at least own up to… something.

Amy’s death affected me immensely, and I didn’t even know the poor girl.  She is a memorial to what we need to fix in our schools.  We can’t stop what happens outside of school, but we can make sure Amy’s death is a living testament to change.  I haven’t heard one word about school climate from those in power.  We have seen plenty in social media comments, but once again it is an empty echo chamber from the decision-makers in our state.  Our legislators have been strangely quiet on the issue.  The Delaware DOE, the State Board of Education, and Governor Markell have been eerily quiet about the situation.  Perhaps things will start to happen now that the investigation is over and charges have been filed.  All I know is something has to happen.  We can’t have another Amy, or all the many living victims of bullying and assault in our schools.  It has to stop.