Girl Who Died After A Bathroom Fight Had Unknown Pre-Existing Heart Condition

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A 16-year-old girl is being charged with criminally negligent homicide after another teen died following a fight in Delaware’s Howard High School bathroom on April 21.


New information indicates that Amy Joyner-Francis had a pre-existing heart condition that was unknown to her assailant and the three other girls who were caught on video watching the altercation. The unnamed defendant may be prosecuted as an adult, and stands accused of hitting Joyner-Francis repeatedly in the head and torso after the two arranged to meet and fight.

The defendant’s attorney John Deckers states that the sudden cardiac arrest of Joyner-Francis couldn’t have been anticipated by his client, who he says is a good student with no prior record of disciplinary action involving fighting:

“This is a painful, confusing and unforeseeable tragedy for all involved,” he said, adding that the case involves “unique, if not unprecedented,” facts and legal issues.

“The altercation was between two teens who knowingly and willingly entered the bathroom for that purpose,” he said. “The possible consequence — that a consensual fight, involving no blunt force injuries, could ever result in death due to an unknown, pre-existing medical condition — was entirely unapparent to either girl.”

“A teenager has no way of reasonably perceiving or anticipating that death might occur in this type of a consensual confrontation — something which otherwise appeared to be a not uncommon, although ugly and regrettable, fight between two school girls,” he added.

On Monday, Wilmington Police Chief Bobby Cummings also spoke in a town hall meeting on Joyner-Francis’ death. He seemed to support Deckers assertions that it was an unanticipated accident without explicitly agreeing that there should be leniency towards the defendant, saying, “I don’t know that they truly understood their actions but there are heavy consequences they will have to pay as a result of this.”

Image via CBS News.

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Dr Mrs The Monarch

I’m not pro-fighting but I acknowledge that kids do fight and always have. The victim’s death is a horrible tragedy, but also an accident. A preventable accident for sure—which makes it worse—but still an accident.

Why even try a child as an adult in this scenario? It’s not that the defendant shouldn’t be charged because there need to be serious consequences, but a teenager acting exactly like a teenager should not result in an adult charge.