Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

March 15, 2014

Subpoenas issued in KJ case

Federal grand jury investigating ‘possible’ civil rights violations

VALDOSTA — A federal grand jury is investigating whether civil rights or other federal laws were violated in the death of Lowndes High School student Kendrick Johnson 14 months ago.

Subpoenas issued to several of Johnson’s classmates and others confirmed U.S. District Attorney Michael Moore has submitted the Johnson case to a grand jury in Macon for investigation.

Moore has been reviewing the unusual case since October with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He said at the outset his office could only prosecute if it was determined federal laws had been violated.

The grand jury subpoenas stated its investigation into the circumstances of the death focus on the “possible violation of federal law involving, but not limited to, civil rights.”

Johnson’s body was found in the old gym at Lowndes High School on Jan. 11, 2013. The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation that concluded Johnson’s death was accidental, caused by positional asphyxia after he became stuck, upside down, upon crawling into the vertically stored gym mat to retrieve an athletic shoe.

His lifeless body was found by students in a gym class the day after he was recorded by a video surveillance camera entering the gym.

Johnson’s parents dispute the accidental death finding. They received a court order to exhume their son’s body and have it examined by a hired, independent pathologist. He attributed the death to “apparent non-accidental blunt force trauma.”

Several of Johnson’s classmates appeared before the grand jury Thursday. Their testimony was given under oath that prevents them from discussing it with anyone.

The subpoenas were originally sent to witnesses in February, but the grand jury was rescheduled due to inclement weather. Recipients received subpoenas for Thursday’s grand jury session earlier this week. The Johnson family attorney,  Benjamin Crump, told NewsOne that more than 100 subpoenas were issued.

Jim Elliott, the attorney representing Lowndes County Sheriff officials, said Friday no one from that office has received a grand jury subpoena or has been interviewed by the FBI to date.

Elliott said Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson also has not been subpoenaed, though he has spoken with the FBI.

FBI agents have also interviewed several former and current Lowndes High students in the past few months as part of U.S. Attorney Moore’s review of Johnson’s death.

And Lowndes County school officials received subpoenas in December for computer hard drives containing the high school’s surveillance videos the day Johnson entered the gym and the next day when his body was found.

Moore has said nothing about his review since he agreed to conduct it, but he did respond to a CNN reporter on the steps of the federal courthouse in Macon on Thursday.

 “We’re working methodically, and sometimes we remember we’re running a marathon instead of a sprint,” Moore was quoted by CNN. “It’s better to get it right than to get it fast. I’m satisfied that the FBI is moving forward at the appropriate speed, and they’re doing a fine job.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • ARociewilliams_002.jpg Woman shares nearly a century of lessons

    With nearly 100 years of life under her belt, Ocie Viola Williams has plenty of advice to share with the world. Her top two pieces of advice: know the importance of education and don’t expect a teacher to raise your child for you. 

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • psst1 photo page copy.jpg PSST! finishes peachy season

    Peach State Summer Theatre concluded its 2014 season Sunday, a season which broke attendance records for the professional musical theatre company.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_2381.jpeg Award-winning young professionals share success secrets

    The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber’s MetroOne Young Professionals hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday at the Hilton Garden Inn to highlight successful business practices.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140726_summerlibrary002.jpg Library celebrates end of summer reading program

    With the first day of school just around the corner, students are soaking in the last few weeks of summer vacation. The end of summer also means the end of the South Georgia Regional Library’s 2014 summer reading program.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • artseason1 copy.jpg A sneak peek at some area arts organizations’ 2014-15 seasons

    Beethoven. Tennessee Williams. Non-stop art. Two versions of “The Wizard of Oz.” The 2014-15 arts season is coming.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • sabalmap.jpg Sabal Trail explains its position

    Representatives from Sabal Trail Transmission recently sat down with The Times to provide an update on the ongoing pipeline and potential economic development opportunities associated with the project.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514-MoodyComp007.jpg Moody AFB crews race in load competition

    Moody Air Force Base hosted a weapons load competition Friday morning, a maintenance group tradition in which two 23d Maintenance Group A-10 munition load crews raced against the clock to load munitions onto an A-10C Thunderbolt II.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • moonshine bust.jpg Police close illegal drinking house

    After receiving numerous complaints, the Valdosta Police Department shut down an illegal alcohol sales operation Friday.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • election.jpg Black earns most votes in runoff

    State Rep. Ellis Black led the votes for state Senate District 8 Friday with seven of seven counties reporting certified results, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140724-LAT1.jpg Little Actors Theatre ready for summer show

    Since 2004, the Little Actors Theatre has provided a place for children ages 6 to 19 to express themselves through acting.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results