Valdosta Daily Times

Kendrick Johnson

November 1, 2013

U.S. Attorney to review ‘KJ’ case

MACON, Ga. — A U.S. Attorney announced Thursday he will conduct a formal review into the death of Lowndes High student Kendrick Johnson.

“I do this with an open mind, neither accepting nor rejecting the opinions of anyone who has previously investigated the circumstances of Mr. Johnson’s death,” said United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Michael Moore.

Moore made the announcement at 1 p.m. Thursday outside of his office in Macon.

He began by giving a timeline of the investigation: the discovery of Johnson’s body in the old gym at Lowndes High School in January, the investigation conducted by the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the GBI autopsy that ruled the death as accidental due to positional asphyxia, his office receiving the complete investigative file including photos and videos, the second autopsy conducted by a private pathologist at the family’s expense that concluded that death was the result of blunt-force trauma, and the ongoing efforts of his office to obtain and review information relating to the case.

Moore then posited four questions.

“First, what was the cause of Mr. Johnson’s death? Second, was Mr. Johnson’s death the result of a crime? Third, if Mr. Johnson’s death was the result of a crime, who committed that crime? Fourth, if a crime was committed, who has the jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute those responsible?” Moore asked.

If a crime did occur that resulted in Johnson’s death, Moore said it may not be a crime which could be prosecuted in federal court.

Moore stated that his office has received and is reviewing hundreds of telephone calls to determine if any relevant information has been offered.

“At this time what we need are people with actual facts and knowledge of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Johnson’s death to present those to us. Facts, not feelings and opinions, no matter how sincere, are the basis of a legal investigation,” said Moore.

Moore will conduct a “formal review of the facts and investigation surrounding the death of Kendrick Johnson,” and has requested the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“I am committed to doing everything in my power to answer the questions that exist in this case, or as many of them that we can … my goal is to follow the facts, apply the law and to protect the independence and objectivity of the investigative process,” said Moore.

During the review, Moore’s office will not be making any public comments.

In a comment previously provided to The Times, Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine said he “would welcome an independent review of this case by the Department of Justice.”

Moore’s announcement comes one day after Southern Circuit Judge Harry Altman ordered the release of previously redacted and omitted material that was not included in open records requests for all information relating to Johnson’s case.

Most of the omitted material includes the identities of minors, said Jim Elliot, lawyer for the sheriff’s office, and that has raised issues of concern, especially from the school system, prompting the release of this statement Thursday afternoon: “The Lowndes County School System will continue to fully cooperate with local, state, and federal law-enforcement agencies in any investigation of this matter. It is critically important that those who receive identifying information regarding current or former Lowndes High students use the utmost discretion before releasing it without parental permission.”

Moore did not provide a timetable for the completion of the review. The next development in this case is expected Monday in Lowndes County Superior Court concerning the Johnson family’s petition for a coroner’s inquest.

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Kendrick Johnson
  • KJ’s parents claim racial bullying in lawsuit

    The parents of Kendrick Johnson have sued the Lowndes County School System, claiming officials neglected to protect their son from racial harassment and bullying that they said led to his death.

    May 15, 2014

  • Anonymous email in KJ case based on rumor, says author

    The teenage girl who authored an anonymous email claiming someone had confessed to murdering Kendrick Johnson says it was strictly a rumor that she felt conscience-bound to share with the sheriff’s office.

    March 27, 2014

  • keyboard.jpg Authorities: Confession in KJ case not credible

    An anonymous email claiming a former classmate of Kendrick Johnson had confessed to killing him was investigated and determined not to be credible, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.

    March 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • social.jpg Mom says sons harassed, threatened in KJ case

    Karen Bell has had it with the rumor-mongering about her family’s connection to the death of Kendrick Johnson on social networking sites like YouTube,  Twitter and Facebook.

    February 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Johnsons file civil suit against funeral home

    Kendrick Johnson’s parents have filed a civil lawsuit against the Harrington Funeral Home, claiming it negligently handled their son’s remains and deliberately withheld information about the condition of his body.

    February 6, 2014

  • 140121-Floyd_Rose001.jpg No response to KJ reward

    A local civil rights leader returned reward money to its donor Tuesday after it failed to yield any significant information pertaining to the death of Kendrick Johnson.

    January 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • State capitol rally today for new KJ probe

    A three-hour rally for a new investigation into the disputed death of Lowndes High student Kendrick Johnson 11 months ago is planned today on the front steps of the Georgia Capitol building.

    December 11, 2013

  • Kendrick_Johnson.jpg Where was Kendrick?

    About this series
    This is the third of four stories by the Valdosta Daily Times reviewing the official police file on the investigation into the death of Kendrick Johnson. Today’s report is about the confusion surrounding Kendrick’s whereabouts the day before his body was found, explains police handling of a report that a person was attacked and falsely accused of killing Kendrick, and tells about the dissatisfaction of Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson with how authorities handled the immediate investigation.

    November 23, 2013 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • kendrick-johnson.jpg Finding Kendrick

    The Times continues its in-depth look at the investigative case file into the January death of Kendrick Johnson at Lowndes High School.

    November 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • kendrick-johnson.jpg Kendrick’s Final Walk

    A review of Lowndes High School video footage shows more than the moments Kendrick Johnson entered the old gymnasium where his body was discovered Jan. 11 in a rolled wrestling mat.

    November 21, 2013 1 Photo

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