Does a 17-year-old know the difference between right and wrong? Do they understand that killing someone is a serious crime that should result in their own death or life in prison? Should a 17-year-old who viciously beats another person to death be tried as an adult and receive the same penalty as an adult for committing such a heinous crime?
If you were the parent of young teenager who was brutally beaten to death and learned that the killers were only given a mere slap on the wrist, would you be outraged?
Then consider the parents of 16-year-old Amy India Joyner-Francis. Their daughter was a sophomore at Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington, Delaware, when two other students, 17-year-old Trinity Carr and 17-year-old Zion Snow attacked her in a bathroom. The attack was witnessed by dozens of girls, some of whom videoed the brutal assault with their phones. When the attack was over, Amy lay dying on the bathroom floor.
Carr, Snow and a third teenage girl were charged with her murder. The prosecution pushed to have the girls found guilty and sentenced to prison. Delaware does not have a prison for juvenile girls, so the prosecution was pushing that the girls be sentenced to a prison out-of-state.
If you think the beating death of Amy was a travesty, then you should also be outraged when you hear what a judge sentenced the girls to. First of all, the third perpetrator was acquitted. Carr and Zion were found guilty, however, their sentences amount to little punishment if any.
Carr was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree conspiracy. She was sentenced to a whole six-months in a secure residential program at Grace Cottage near Wilmington. She also was sentenced to 500 hours of community service, ‘non-residential after-care treatment until the age of 19, along with 2-years of adult probation
Snow was also convicted of the charges against her and received a sentence of 18 months of community supervision. Supposedly, her longer sentence was due to the fact that Zion orchestrated the attack that killed their classmate.
In addition to the slap on the wrist sentences, the judge ordered that both Carr and Zion be banned from all forms of social media, saying:
“I hope, with this sentence, that you can gain the tools to understand and perhaps help others so this horrible event does not get repeated.”
Why the slap on the wrist sentences? The coroner reported that Amy died from a previously unknown and undiagnosed heart condition which was aggravated during the attack. To a lay person like me, it sounds like the poor girl’s heart failed due to the terror she faced as she was being beaten senseless.
Former Wilmington Councilwoman Sherry Dorsey Walker spoke for Amy’s family after the sentencing, saying:
“I don’t think there will ever be anything such as closure as it pertains to this situation because Amy will never come home. So, while one of the assailants gets to be at Grace Cottage and her parents can come visit her on a regular basis that is not something Amy’s family can do.”
If I were Amy’s father, I would not only be outraged over the sentencing of the killers, but I would be demanding the removal of the judge from the bench. What kind of message did that sentence give to other students – that they can kill someone by beating them to death and expect to only get a slight slap on the wrist? That’s nothing to deter anyone from committing murder at that age. In a way, the judge just declared open season on teenagers by their bullying peers.