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Coaches Charged with Murder in Overheating Death of Teen Athlete

A grand jury has indicted two basketball coaches for their alleged roles in the 2019 death of a Georgia teen who died from heat stroke after taking part in mandatory workout drills, which were held outside in extreme heat.

Imani Bell, 16, collapsed on August 13, 2019, after scaling the steps of a football stadium during her basketball team’s conditioning drills at Elite Scholars Academy in Jonesboro.

On that day, temperatures in the region reached 98 degrees.

Last month, Larosa Maria Walker-Asekere and Dwight Broom Palmer were both charged by a grand jury with second-degree murder, second-degree cruelty to children, involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct, PEOPLE confirms through online records.

The defendants’ ages were not released. Bench warrants have been issued for their arrests, but it was unclear Wednesday if they have been taken into custody.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which obtained a copy of the indictment, grand jurors determined the two defendants caused “excessive physical pain by conducting outdoor conditioning training for student athletes in dangerous heat,” resulting in Bell’s tragic death.

In February, Bell’s family filed a civil lawsuit against the school district as well as the Elite Scholars Academy coaching staff.

The suit, for wrongful death and pre-death pain and suffering, alleges the coaches “observed Imani experiencing early signs of heat illness during the outdoor practice, but nevertheless directed Imani to continue performing the conditioning drills with her team and directed Imani to run up the stadium steps.” It seeks money damages as well as funeral and burial expenses.

Her death, the suit contends, was a direct result of “strenuous physical exertion in extreme temperatures.”

Bell’s parents are planning to speak to the media on Wednesday.

It is unclear if the two defendants have retained lawyers.