Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

December 21, 2013

Subpoena issued in KJ case

Hard drives for school surveillance videos sought by U.S. Attorney

VALDOSTA — U.S. Attorney Michael Moore has issued a subpoena for the hard drives containing the original Jan. 10-11 surveillance videos of the old gym in Lowndes High School where Kendrick Johnson was found lifeless in a rolled-up exercise mat.

Moore began his investigation into 17-year-old Johnson’s death in October after his family and others questioned the conclusion of the sheriff’s office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that Kendrick died when he became trapped upside down in the rolled, upright gym mat while reaching for an athletic shoe.

The Johnson family said it suspects he was the victim of foul play and that they do not intend to rest until the complete truth of what happened comes out.

Moore has been reviewing evidence collected at the time of Johnson’s death, including copies of videos from cameras showing the youth entering the old gym at mid-day on Jan. 10, jogging briefly inside the gym afterwards and then no other video of him until 24 hours later when he was carted out of the gym in a body bag.

There were questions about gaps in the copied videos that likely caused Moore to issue the subpoena for the original hard drives from the high school’s surveillance cameras.

The Johnson family had sought access to the hard drives through an open records request, but the school system said it could not release them without a judge’s order because they contained identifying information of students protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

The legal question was pending in court when Moore issued the grand jury subpoena for the hard drives.

Warren Turner, legal counsel for Lowndes County Schools, told The Valdosta Daily Times in a conversation that took place in November that the school system “has always thought it was best for the federal government to take control of the servers instead of providing it to a third party, family, the press or anyone (else).”

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