A coroner ruled today that the death of a 10-year-old Southern California girl in an afterschool alley fight is a homicide, the AP and Long Beach Press-Telegram report. Joanna Ramos of Long Beach apparently faced an 11-year-old girl in a fight without any weapons Friday, and never fell down—but later that day started vomiting and complaining of a headache. Hours later, after emergency surgery, she died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Witnesses say the fight was over a boy. "They took off their backpacks, and they put their hair in a bun, and then that's when they said `go' and that's when they started hitting each other," says a friend. She and others tried to stop them, but boys who were watching held them back. Police have interviewed the girl Joanna fought but haven't made an arrest. Joanna's sister Urbina sat crying today beside a memorial of balloons and flowers. "She was so young for this to happen," she said. "She was so happy and so many people loved her." (Read more homicide stories.)