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No prison time for those convicted in Joyner-Francis death

Delaware Public Media

17-year-olds Trinity Carr and Zion Snow will avoid spending time behind bars for their roles in the death of Howard High School classmate, Amy Joyner-Francis.

Carr will spend the next six months in a secure residential treatment facility for girls just outside of Wilmington after she was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and conspiracy.

She’ll then serve two years on probation while performing 500 hours of community service focused on programs dealing with at-risk kids and those who’ve been bullied.

Carr will also be banned from all social media during that time. The state will randomly check her phone and computer for any activity.

Snow will spend the next year and a half on probation on a conspiracy conviction and perform 300 hours of similar community service. She will also be banned from social media.

A third girl charged with conspiracy, Chakiera Wright was found not guilty.

Carr attacked Joyner-Francis in a Howard High bathroom last year after posting threats on social media,

A 48-second video played repeatedly during the trial shows Carr punching and kicking Joyner-Francis and then dragging her into a nearby stall.

Joyner-Francis later died from an underlying heart condition.

The courtroom was nearly silent for about 15 minutes while Coonin filled out sentencing paperwork, at one point grimacing.

“Everyone has lost: the community has lost, the defendants have lost, and most importantly, Amy’s family has lost,” he said.

This case, Coonin said, shows that while society has come to rely on social media, it filters out emotional cues one can pick up on during face-to-face contact.

“It takes the human element out of being human,” he said.

To Carr, who’s been homeschooled since the incident and performing community service, Coonin notes her words alone can’t undo the permanent damage done.

Her rehabilitation “may have begun, but words alone aren’t enough.”

Carr’s lawyer, John Deckers, asked Coonin to stay his sentence pending an appeal, but the judge denied his request.

Joiner-Francis’s family packed the courtroom Monday morning.

“Amy and I were best friends,” her mother, Inita B. Joiner wrote in a letter to the court.

“It would be a disgrace if these girls don’t serve time,” Joiner wrote, calling community service an “easy way out” for a “senseless act of cowardly violence.”

The state wanted Judge Robert Coonin to send Carr to an out-of-state youth prison during sentencing Monday, saying such an adult facing the same charge could have faced up to eight years in prison.

Coonin previously declined to try Carr as an adult, noting she could be rehabilitated 

State Prosecutor Sean Lugg’s reaction was subdued.

“The court balanced the rehabilitative needs and the needs of society in a way that I would hope sends the message…but also addresses the needs of these two young women so that they will have productive lives before them,” Lugg said.

Both Carr and Wright will have to pay restitution. It’s unclear how much each will owe, but the Victim Restoration and Community Mediation Programs will set an amount.

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