Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

September 5, 2013

Johnson autopsies compared

Times obtains copy of second autopsy report

VALDOSTA —  A second autopsy report for a 17-year-old student found dead earlier this year in Lowndes High School notes his cause of death as “blunt force trauma, right neck, involving right mandible, and soft tissues, including the area of the carotid body, consistent with inflicted injury.”

The Times obtained a copy of the four-page second autopsy report on Kendrick Johnson Wednesday.

Conducted by Dr. William R. Anderson, an Ocala, Fla., pathologist, the autopsy was reportedly paid for by the Johnson family and their supporters, who have disagreed with a Georgia Bureau of Investigation autopsy that found the teen’s death to be accidental, caused by positional asphyxia, with no signs of blunt-force trauma. The family believes foul play was involved in Johnson’s death.

The second autopsy report notes that it was performed at the request of Jacquelyn and Kenneth Johnson, Kendrick Johnson’s parents.

As a note under the cause of death listed on the second autopsy report for Forensic Dimensions, a medical diagnostic services organization in Orlando, Fla., Anderson writes, “Unexplained, apparent non-accidental, blunt force trauma: further investigation is indicated to determine the etiology of the injuries.” Etiology is essentially the study of causes, as in what caused the injuries.

Anderson’s autopsy describes the injuries, as follows:

“Examination of the head and neck shows an area of contusion injury involving the right mandibular area, with moderate discoloration of the skin. Examination of the previously undissected area and sectioning of the skin reveals evidence of full-thickness cutaneous hemorrhage, extending into the subcutaneous fat.

“Further dissection into the deep soft tissue reveals hemorrhage into the musculature with extension to the peri-osteal region of the inferior aspect of the posterior body of the right mandible. Focally, an area of intra-osseus hemorrhage is identified in an area of moderately prominent peri-osteal and soft tissue hemorrhage.

“Examination of the right upper neck reveals hemorrhage in the deep soft tissue and musculature adjacent to the bifurcation of the right common carotid artery and carotid body.

“Examination of the soft tissues of the left neck area reveals no grossly evident areas of hemorrhage.”

These second autopsy findings contradict the state’s autopsy results released earlier this year.

The GBI autopsy notes, under the heading Neck: “A layered dissection of the anterior neck is performed. Examination of the soft tissues of the neck including the strap muscles and large vessels reveals no abnormalities. The hyoid bone and laryngeal cartilages are intact. The larynx is clear. The lingual mucosa is intact; the underlying musculature is devoid of hemorrhage.”

In terms of any blunt-force trauma, the first autopsy found superficial abrasions on a finger. “No other injuries are identified.”

 In January, Kendrick “KJ” Johnson, 17, was found dead in the old Lowndes High gymnasium on the school campus. Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office proclaimed no foul play in the case on the same day as the teen’s body was discovered.

The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and Georgia Bureau of Investigation concluded that Johnson was alone in the gym, reached for a loose shoe and became trapped in a rolled-up wrestling-type mat, and died from being upside down for an extended period of time.

The state’s autopsy confirmed these findings and concluded the death was accidental.

The Johnson family and many supporters never agreed with the findings and continued rallying outside of the Lowndes County Judicial Complex in the months since the autopsy was returned. They believe, based on the condition of Johnson’s body, especially the bloated nature of his head and face following the initial autopsy, that he was murdered.

In June, the family won a court order for Johnson’s body to be exhumed from Sunset Hill Cemetery for the second autopsy. Family and supporters have also requested the federal Justice Department investigate the case.  

The U.S. Attorney Middle District of Georgia Michael J. Moore is reviewing the case but has not initiated a formal investigation into Kendrick Johnson’s death.

 

See both the state and the second autopsyreports on valdostadailytimes.com

Original Autopsy Report: http://valdosta.sgaonline.com/2010vdt/pdfs/kendrick-johnson.pdf

Second Autopsy Report: http://valdosta.sgaonline.com/2010vdt/pdfs/KJohnson_second_autopsy.pdf

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