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Girl died of congenital condition, not school fight injuries, prosecutor says

A South Carolina prosecutor said Friday that the investigation into the death of a 5th grader last month was due to natural causes and not a fight with another student. Solicitor Duffie Stone said at a press conference that 10-year-old Raniya Wright died of a congenital condition called an arteriovenous malformation, a tangle of abnormal blood vessels in the brain. 

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Raniya Wright Family photo/Facebook

The child had repeatedly complained of headaches in the days and weeks before her death.

Stone said that pathology and other scientific reports showed no evidence of trauma to the body that would have indicated the child died of injuries sustained in a fight on March 25. Raniya died two days later.

"In this case, the science is clear," Stone said.

No criminal charges will be filed in the case, he said.

The child's family has maintained that another fifth grade girl at Forest Hills Elementary School in Walterboro had hit or pushed the girl. Officials described the altercation as a brief  "slap fight" and said the girls were immediately separated. They said there was no indication of bullying or any previous reported incidents between the two girls.

Margie Pizarro, an attorney for Raniya's mother, Ashley Wright, however, disputed that account. Pizarro said other students in Raniya's class told her family that the other fifth grader involved in the fight had been bothering Raniya all day. She said Wright had previously reported numerous bullying incidents by the same student with Raniya over the course of several years.

Pizarro said the other child put Raniya in a headlock, punched her in the head repeatedly, and pushed her into a shelf, from which a brick-sized object dislodged and fell on her head.  
 
Pizarro said Wright had no indication her child suffered from a medical condition, describing her as an active girl who played basketball. She described the medical findings released Friday as "initial" and said the family will consult with medical professionals to determine whether the altercation could have contributed to the girl's death.