Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

September 4, 2013

Second autopsy returned in Kendrick Johnson case

Report claims non-accidental, blunt-force trauma

VALDOSTA — A second autopsy claims a 17-year-old student discovered earlier this year in Lowndes High School died from what’s being described as “unexplained, apparent non-accidental, blunt force trauma,” according to information obtained Tuesday.

This finding contradicts the state’s original autopsy that ruled Kendrick Johnson’s death as accidental caused by positional asphyxia.

On Tuesday, Dr. William R. Anderson, the Ocala, Fla.-based pathologist hired by the Kendrick Johnson family and supporters to perform the second autopsy, told The Times he gave copies of his completed report to family and law-enforcement authorities last Friday.

Anderson said he would not elaborate on the findings, but did tell The Times that the second autopsy raises “issues of concern.”

The Times was unable to obtain a copy of the autopsy report Tuesday.

Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson received a copy of the second autopsy which he confirmed referenced non-accidental, blunt-force trauma; however, Watson said Tuesday that he stands by the original Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab autopsy that claimed Johnson’s death was accidental, caused by positional asphyxia, with no signs of blunt-force trauma.

Watson said he also has no reason to convene a coroner’s inquest because the state has

provided an accidental cause of death, which means there are no suspects. Having a cause and no suspects, there is no purpose of having an inquest, the coroner said, because there would be “no place for it to go.”

The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office also stands by the state’s original autopsy, said Sheriff’s Lt. Stryde Jones.

 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.  

 In addition to the daily gatherings downtown, there have also been rallies with hundreds of people in attendance. Al Sharpton visited Valdosta on one occasion to support the family.

The case has also attracted national media attention.

The Times approached Johnson relatives and supporters Tuesday afternoon at their downtown location, but they refused to comment.

The Times also requested a comment from the Lowndes County School System regarding the second autopsy, but Lowndes County School Superintendent Wes Taylor declined comment. Lynne Wilson, Lowndes County Schools public relations director, said the school system has not received an official report or any official notification of the new findings.

CNN reported Tuesday that U.S. Attorney Middle District of Georgia Michael J. Moore is reviewing the case but is not formally investigating the death.

Times staffers Brandon Powers, Kristin Finney and Dean Poling contributed to this report.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 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

  • 072414-MichelleNunn003.jpeg Michelle Nunn visits Valdosta

    The day after learning that her Republican challenger would be David Perdue, Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Michelle Nunn kicked off her Common Sense and Collaboration Tour Wednesday by meeting with business owners in Atlanta, Athens and Macon and continued her tour Thursday morning by visiting the David S. Waller Unit facility of the Boys and Girls Club of Valdosta.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • lunch.jpg Valdosta One Lunch feeds summer-hungry kids

    Hunger is a concept that many people associate with third-world countries, not their hometown. However, in Valdosta, hunger is real. To combat this hunger, a group of Valdostans have created Valdosta One Lunch, a program that distributes bagged meals to children in need.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • thumbs up.jpeg Moody squadron commander reaches milestone

    The 75th Fighter Squadron commander hit a career milestone July 17, by surpassing 3,000 flight hours in an A-10C Thunderbolt II.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • water.jpg New equipment expected to deal with Lowndes water violations

    The Lowndes County Commission’s recent approval of $1.6 million for water-treatment equipment is expected to counter a past series of water-quality violations within the county.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 142314-Goodwill.jpg Goodwill hosts the Mexican Consulate

    Mexican citizens living in South Georgia have spent this week lining up at the Valdosta Goodwill to meet with the Mexican Consulate to obtain Mexican government issued identification.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140723-Tree001.jpg Chamber plants 100th centennial tree

    Founded in September 1912, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest chambers in the state.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140723 - Operation M#10E3C7.JPG Veterans First

    With Moody Air Force Base expecting to lose 300 to 400 personnel due to government cutbacks, area organizations are working with military personnel about to enter the civilian work force.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lowndes increases millage rate

    For the first time since 1999, the Lowndes County Commission voted Wednesday to increase the millage rate.

    July 24, 2014

  • dui memorial 1.jpg Memorial honors woman killed in DUI case

    More than a week after the man responsible for her death was sentenced to five years in jail, a memorial sign has been placed at the site where Sheila Foster-Lamb was hit and killed by an impaired driver while she was on her way to work.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

Top News
Poll

School starts again in about two weeks. What do you think?

It's still summer. School starts too soon.
Seems like the right time to return.
Abolish summer recess. Make school year-round.
     View Results