Judge: Teen Charged In Fatal Bathroom Fight Won’t Be Tried As Adult

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DOVER, Del. (CBS) — A Delaware judge has rejected a request from prosecutors to try a 16-year-old girl as an adult after a fatal fight in a high school bathroom.

The judge announced Friday that the defendant will instead be tried in Family Court on charges of criminally negligent homicide and conspiracy.

The girl is accused of repeatedly hitting 16-year-old Amy Joyner-Francis in a premeditated attack April 21 at Wilmington’s Howard High School of Technology. Two other girls are charged with conspiracy. The fight was captured on cellphone video. The Associated Press is not naming the defendants because they are juveniles.

A medical examiner said Joyner-Francis had a pre-existing heart condition, and the physical and emotional stress from the assault contributed to the sudden cardiac arrest that caused her death.

If the 16-year-old charged with criminally negligent homicide is ruled delinquent in family court, she would likely face community supervision and treatment until she is 19, reports Delaware Online. Had she been tried in adult court and convicted, she reportedly could have faced a sentence of up to eight years.

“While this is [the teen’s] first contact with the justice system, it is a tragic one with a horrific outcome, an outcome that will have a longstanding impact on a family, a school and a community for many years,” Delaware Family Court Judge Robert B. Coonin wrote in his decision. “Whether [the teen] is tried in the Family Court or in the Superior Court, that outcome will not change; the senseless loss of a young girl’s life cannot be undone nor will the pain inflicted upon her family ever be extinguished.”

However, the judge ruled that the state hadn’t proved that an adult correctional facility would be “the only available remedy in order to protect the public and make the child a useful member of society,” and found the girl to be amenable to rehabilitation under the family court system.