Fatal fight: Amy Joyner-Francis beaten to death in girls bathroom at school
Amy Joyner-Francis was a Delaware honor student who had her whole life ahead of her. Around 8 a.m. on April 21, 2016, at Wilmington's Howard High School of Technology, she went into a girls bathroom to "settle the beef" with a few classmates.
In a brazen attack caught on video, a group of girls jumped her inside a restroom and beat her so bad that she stopped breathing.
While the fight was over a boy, court evidence shows that Amy was not a willing participant: A group chat submitted as evidence in the trial shows that Amy was telling another girl to "be careful" about dealing with a particular boy. When others joined the group chat, the alleged attacker thought that Amy was talking about her and since that time had wanted "to fight" her.
Amy tried to diffuse the situation, it was brought out in court. A Snapchat taken a day before the brawl shows Amy talking to the girl who would attack her. "She's scared. She's scared. We gonna get her," a voice says in the video. The girls even advised one another to wear sneakers on the day of the planned attack; Amy wore sandals.
Student Kayla Wilson, who told WPVI TV that she was in a neighboring stall during the attack, said "She was fighting a girl, and then that's when all these other girls started banking her — like jumping her — and she hit her head on the sink."
At a hearing in August, psychologist testified that one of the girls who beat Amy was responding well to counseling and posed no further harm.
"We have an opportunity to intervene," Robin Belcher-Timme said, according to CBS News. Adding that her slip in grades and association with bad individuals was "correctible behavior."
When she learned of the victim's death, the girl responded: "Somebody else must have kicked her. ... Well they're not going to put this on me," deputy attorney general Theresa Sedivec recounted, according to CBS.
Amy was flown to A.I. DuPont Children's Hospital in critical condition. Ninety minutes later she was declared dead.
Three girls, all 16 years old, are charged with criminally negligent homicide in Amy's death although the medical examiner did not list the attack as the cause of death. In a twist of fate, Amy's demise is attributed to sudden cardiac arrest caused by a pre-existing heart condition.
An attorney for one of the girls is fighting the charges, claiming that his client couldn't have known that Amy had a heart condition.
In an agonizing memorial service held at St. Paul UAME Church in Wilmington, Amy's mother recalled her daughter as "extremely beautiful, so very thoughtful, awesomely intelligent, very, very talented and definitely one of a kind," according to DelawareOnline.com.
A friend of Amy's, Shytera Dawkins, told Delaware Online that the death has sent shockwaves around the community.
Vigils have been held around the school to raise awareness about Amy's death and to motivate city leaders to act against school violence and bullying.
"All I wanted to do with my friend was walk across the stage and get our diplomas," the teen told the website. "And now that dream is taken away because she's not there."