Kendrick Johnson Death To Be Reexamined By Federal Prosecutor

A federal prosecutor said Thursday that he will conduct a formal review of facts and evidence in the death of Kendrick Johnson, the Georgia teenager whose body was found inside a rolled-up wrestling mat in his high school gym earlier this year.

US Attorney Michael Moore said he will ask the FBI to conduct a criminal or civil rights investigation into Johnson’s death if he finds enough evidence to warrant those charges.

“I will follow the facts wherever they lead,” Moore said. “My objective is to discover the truth.”

Moore’s jurisdiction as federal prosecutor is limited, but he said after a lengthy review of evidence collected by authorities and the Johnson family’s own investigator that “sufficient basis exists” to warrant a formal review.

Kendrick Johnson’s body was found inside a rolled-up wrestling mat in the gym of Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia, on January 11 after his parents reported him missing the night before.

Within 24 hours of finding the teenager’s body, Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine announced that investigators had no reason to suspect foul play in Johnson’s death.

State medical examiners came to the initial conclusion that Johnson “accidentally suffocated” while trying to retrieve a sneaker from inside the mat.

The teen’s parents, Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson, weren’t satisfied with the claim and ordered an exhumation and second autopsy. They believed their son was murdered and that someone tried to cover up the evidence.

The second autopsy found that “organs from the teen’s torso up to his skull had been removed and replaced with newspaper after his death.” The autopsy also determined that Kendrick Johnson died from blunt force trauma to the head.

According to CNN, the family questioned whether officials in the predominately white county took the investigation into Kendrick Johnson’s death seriously enough. Authorities said they did.

“We’re happy that a fresh pair of eyes is starting to look at Kendrick’s case,” Kenneth Johnson told CNN‘s Jake Tapper Thursday. “We’re just waiting on the truth to really come out.”

Family attorney Benjamin Crump — who also worked with the family of Trayvon Martin — told Tapper, “His parents never accepted this explanation that he climbed into a wrestling mat got stuck and died. It flew in the face of all common sense.”

Crump added, “This is a murder-mystery and we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which conducted the first autopsy, said it stands by its initial findings in Kendrick Johnson’s death.

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