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Thursday, April 19, 2012 - Page updated at 02:00 p.m.
No charges in death of Calif girl, 10, after fight
By GILLIAN FLACCUS
An 11-year-old girl won't be charged in the death of a 10-year-old schoolmate she fought with hours before the younger girl died.
The death of Joanna Ramos came after a "fight between two children that ended with unintended and tragic results," but no crime was committed, the Long Beach Police Department said in a statement.
Police referred all inquiries to the district attorney's office. District attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said her office could not comment on the decision because the case involved a juvenile.
Joanna was pronounced dead on Feb. 24, about six hours after she tussled with another girl in an alley near her elementary school after classes ended.
Her mother, Cecilia Villanueva, said officials met with the family Wednesday morning, but she still knows few details about the fight and chose not to ask because it was too painful.
"There's nothing they can do that's going to bring my daughter back, nothing. There's nothing I can do," she said, choking back tears.
Villanueva said she felt for the other girl.
"Her life is not the same anymore. I'm not angry because it could have happened to the girl instead of to Joanna," she said.
The name of the other girl has not been made public.
Joanna's family previously told The Associated Press that she underwent emergency surgery for a blood clot on her brain and was resuscitated several times before she died.
Joanna's older sister, Vanessa Urbina, said Wednesday she was disappointed about the decision. The family knows little more about what prompted the fight than they did when it happened nearly two months ago, she said.
"There's nothing we can do, but I want charges on her," said Urbina, 17. "She killed my sister. She didn't mean to kill her, but she meant to hurt her."
The fight near Willard Elementary didn't appear to be especially violent, no weapons were used, and neither girl was knocked to the ground, police have said.
Joanna had a bloody nose when she returned to her after-school program, according to witnesses, and had to be picked up early by a relative because she didn't feel well.
By the time Joanna got home, she was complaining of a headache and vomiting.
Before she passed out on the family's couch, she told her mother an 11-year-old girl had punched her in the head but refused to say more, Villanueva previously told the AP.
The coroner's office labeled the case a homicide and said Joanna died of blunt force trauma to the head. The autopsy report remained under a security hold Wednesday, said Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter.
The death shook the school community at Willard Elementary, located in a working-class neighborhood just a few miles from a more affluent area of homes that front a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Joanna, a bubbly girl who loved soap operas and curling her long, dark hair, would have turned 11 on March 12. In her honor, the family went to a local amusement park as she had requested for her birthday party, Urbina said.
"We're taking it day by day," she said. "I just miss her being here."
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