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Two Georgia basketball coaches have been charged with murder in the death of a 16-year-old girl who died during outdoor practice in extreme heat.
A Clayton County grand jury recently issued an indictment charging Larosa Maria Walker-Asekere and Dwight Broom Palmer with second degree murder, second degree child cruelty, manslaughter and reckless conduct.
The charges relate to the August 2019 death of Imani Bell, an Elite Scholars Academy student who died after members of the women’s basketball team practiced outdoors in temperatures that reached 90 degrees.
Walker-Asekere was the basketball head coach and Palmer was an assistant, according to the family’s attorney, Justin Miller. Both were in practice and had been in charge of the children, he told The Associated Press.
Miller said the prosecution “sends a signal that the district attorney is taking this seriously,” but added that he wants the case to move “quickly.”
“The point of the case is the prosecution, not just the charges,” he said.
The court documents do not include attorneys for Palmer or Walker-Asekere and the listed phone numbers could not be reached.
Chris Stewart another attorney for the family
Chris Stewart, another attorney for the family, told a news conference in February that there was a heat notice on the day the practice took place. The weather forecast had issued a warning that outdoor activities should be limited due to the heat, he told reporters.
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“Every day we are learning to live with the loss of our daughter,” said the girl’s mother, Dorian Bell, at the news conference. “When we realize that this is nothing that will disappear, that it will always be here, a part of me is missing, but we are learning to live … We just want to close this whole situation.”
Bell’s father said that basketball was just one of his daughter’s loves.
“She was in love with life. She was in love with education and only had a musical orientation. She had an open mind for everything,” said Eric Bell.
It is unclear if the coaches are still employed at Elite Scholars Academy. The district, Clayton County Public Schools, did not respond to a request for an update on his employment status Wednesday.
When asked for comment on the lawsuit and the charges, a district spokesperson said “the school system does not comment on pending / ongoing litigation or personnel issues” due to school practices and protocols.