Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

November 8, 2013

Johnson family appealing judge's decision

VALDOSTA — “I think the tapes show that there is some conspiracy to conceal the truth from this family and to the public as to who killed Kendrick Johnson,” said Benjamin Crump, lawyer for the Johnson family.

Crump announced at a press conference Thursday that Kendrick’s parents, Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson, will seek to obtain the hard drive that contains the original surveillance video files from Lowndes High School that were copied and released to the family following a judge’s order that unredacted footage be made available.

The family will also file an appeal of Judge Harry Altman’s decision to put a hold on the family's request for a coroner’s inquest into Kendrick’s death until after U.S. Attorney Michael Moore finishes his review of the investigation.

Crump made the announcements in front of the Lowndes County Judicial Complex along with Chevene King, another lawyer representing the Johnsons. King said that the Lowndes High School surveillance video they have been given does not include time stamps and that they “don’t have any way of making sense of what it purports to show.”

The surveillance videos were transferred from the video security system to large capacity hard drives. Two copies were provided to the Johnson’s attorneys. Copies were also given to CNN, NBC, AP, ABC, FOX, Inside Edition and the Times in compliance with open records requests, according to Jim Elliott, council for the sheriff’s office.

The video files obtained by the Times do not have time codes. The files are organized into folders indicating which camera took the footage.

King presented enlarged copies of stills from the surveillance videos that did include time stamps. King said the photos were a part of the case file given to them by the sheriff’s office. He questioned why it was possible to produce stills of the videos with a timestamp but not possible to provide videos with the same information.

The absence of the timestamps, along with blurry images and what appears to be students suddenly disappearing from footage, has led Crump to believe that a “conspiracy” has taken place and that the videos have been altered.

Elliott released the following statement concerning the footage:

“The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office has not altered or edited the video that was received from Lowndes High School and provided by our office to the Johnsons’ attorneys.  The surveillance cameras in the gym operate on motion sensors.  The field of vision of the cameras is greater than the range of the motion sensors.

“Someone’s motion may activate a camera but when that person moves outside the range of the motion sensor, the camera will stop operating even though the person remains within the field of vision of the camera.  

“I understand the cameras are not video recorders but actually take still images at the rate of one image per second.  When these images are replayed, they do not have the same appearance as video recordings.”

King acknowledged that he was aware that the cameras were motion activated, but stated that he believed the cameras should have been able to capture images of anyone moving within the frame and believes the credibility of the videos as evidence “is in doubt.”

King also said that it is “not a coincidence” that the footage from the camera capturing the area nearest to where Kendrick’s body was found is blurry and is positioned in such a way that no footage of Kendrick entering the wrestling mat can be seen.

He was unclear whether he thought the camera had been tampered with before Kendrick’s death to obscure the recording or if he thought that the video footage was altered after his death.

“The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and the D.A.’s (district attorney’s) office, they convict people all the time in this building, and they should be held responsible for the lies they are telling and the corruption,” said Kenneth Johnson. “How come when you tell them a lie, they arrest you? How come when they tell us lies, we are supposed to take it? This one family is not going to take it.”

Sheriff Chris Prine previously stated to the Times that he welcomes the U.S. Attorney’s review of the investigation and that “the investigative staff at the Sheriff’s Office, the Valdosta Lowndes Regional Crime Lab and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation conducted a complete and thorough investigation.”

Kendrick Johnson’s body was found inside a rolled up wrestling mat in the old gym at Lowndes High School on Jan. 10. The death was ruled accidental due to positional asphyxia after an autopsy conducted by the GBI.

Crump said the family has always maintained that the official “manner and cause” of Kendrick’s death has been a “lie.”

“They know that their child did not climb into a wrestling mat, get stuck and die,” said Crump.

That belief prompted the family’s decision to seek an appeal in Judge Altman’s decision to put a hold on the coroner’s inquest until the U.S. Attorney’s office finishes a review of the investigation.

“We believe the two (investigations) are mutually exclusive of each other,” said Crump, “We cannot wait to get to the truth.”

Text Only
Local News
  • 140415-water003.jpg Sewage problems persist

    Early Tuesday morning, Valdosta became saturated when the area received approximately three inches of rain from 4 a.m. to noon. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, 11 manholes throughout the City of Valdosta have spilled 286,500 gallons of wastewater into local waterways, and this number will continue to rise.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • vsuopera1dido.jpg Operatic Conclusion

    When the curtain lowers this weekend on Valdosta State University Opera’s performance of Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” it will not only mark the end of the music group’s season.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘If I Were Mayor’ contest essays

    If I were mayor, I would do all that I possibly can to make the city of Valdosta marvelous, but I cannot do it on my own. Some things in Valdosta I feel it is necessary to focus on would be our literacy rate, unemployment rate, crime history, and our environment.

    April 16, 2014

  • APTOPIX Boston Marath_Stew.jpg Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

    Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city’s resilience in the face of a terror attack.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-valdostaboe001 copy.jpg Valdosta Board of Education reviews finances

    Valdosta City Schools Board of Education celebrated many successes Monday night, discussed budget information and heard an announcement of intent from a hopeful charter school.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • dancing with the stars copy.jpg Dancing with Valdosta Stars raises scholarship money

    Valdosta State University Music and Theatre & Dance’s Third Annual Dancing with the Stars of Valdosta presented a fine dance show this past weekend.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • N0041120.jpg Passover: A nation reborn

    “And you shall tell your children that on that day the Lord has took you out from the house of bondage.” — The Passover Hagadah

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-DFCS001.jpg Luncheon recognizes DFACS employees

    Dozens of Lowndes County Division of Family and Children Services employees gathered Monday at Olympic Park for a barbecue lunch in recognition of their hard work.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-Sewage002.jpg Fla. calls for Valdosta boycott

    Florida residents are calling for a boycott of Valdosta regarding the sewage spills, with areas affected downstream increasingly distressed over the millions of gallons that have polluted the waters of the Withlacoochee and the Suwannee River Basin during the last several years.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • police-lights-backgrounds-for-powerpoint.jpg ‘Dangerous’ fugitive caught

    A fugitive from Ohio wanted for attempted murder and a number of assault and robbery charges was captured by Valdosta police Saturday.

    April 14, 2014 2 Photos

Top News

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results