clear
Friday August 28th, 2015 6:24PM

Prosecutor reviewing facts in Ga. gym mat death

By The Associated Press
MACON, Ga. (AP) -- A federal prosecutor said Thursday that he is conducting a formal review of facts and evidence in the death of a teenager whose body was found inside a rolled-up wrestling mat in his high school gym.

U.S. Attorney Michael Moore said that if he uncovers sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal or civil rights investigation into the death of Kendrick Johnson he will ask the FBI to conduct it.

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

Moore said he's reviewing a previous investigation by the sheriff's office and two autopsies done on Johnson, along with photos, videos and other evidence and information. He said he's met with investigators and the attorneys for Johnson's family to investigate the case.

"I am committed to do everything in my power to answer the questions that exist in this case, or as many of them as we can," Moore said.

The 17-year-old's body was found Jan. 11 stuck in an upright mat in the school gym after his parents reported him missing the night before. Lowndes County sheriff's investigators concluded Johnson died in a freak accident, but his family insists that someone must have killed him.

A southern Georgia judge on Wednesday ordered authorities to release all surveillance video that investigators reviewed. Johnson's father said after that ruling that he hoped the footage would contain clues to how he died.

Sheriff Chris Prine had previously released surveillance footage that showed Johnson entering the school gym the afternoon before his body was found. No one appeared to follow him inside.

Johnson's parents wanted to see video from the gym from the hours before their son entered until his body was discovered the next day. The sheriff had declined to release the footage without a court order because it shows other minor students who could be identified.

Johnson's body was stuck upside down in the middle of a wrestling mat that had been rolled up and propped upright behind bleachers.

The sheriff has said he suspects Johnson became trapped trying to retrieve a shoe that fell into the center of the large, rolled mat. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner concluded that he died from positional asphyxia, meaning his body got stuck in a position in which he couldn't breathe.

Johnson's family had his body exhumed over the summer so they could get a second opinion from a private pathologist. Dr. William R. Anderson issued a report in August saying he detected hemorrhaging on the right side of Johnson's neck. He concluded the teenager died from blunt force trauma near his carotid artery and that the fatal blow appeared to be non-accidental. A lawyer for Johnson's parents filed court papers last week requesting a judge to order Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson to hold a coroner's inquest after Watson declined the family's request to do so.

An attorney for Johnson's parents said in September that the autopsy's findings had been sent to local authorities and to Moore, as well as to the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has said it stands by the findings of the initial autopsy. The Justice Department said at the time that it had reviewed the state investigation file and didn't see "sufficient indication of a civil rights violation to authorize a civil rights investigation." But the Justice Department did say it was working with Moore and that his office was monitoring and evaluating the situation.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Bartus, Icemen shuts out Gwinnett
Garrett Bartus pitched a 42 save shutout, as the Evansville IceMen topped the Gwinnett Gladiators on a New year
10:23PM ( 1 year ago )
Gator Bowl Preview Capsule
A rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won 45-31 in Orlando.
8:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Millsap's 34 leads Hawks past Celtics
Paul Millsap had season highs with 34 points and 15 rebounds as the Hawks rallied from an 18-point deficit for a 92-91 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday afternoon.
7:44PM ( 1 year ago )
Sports
Big Red Shootout: Buford foils Lady Elephants' upset bid in finale
Buford junior Camille Anderson knows to forget about the past during games.
11:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Boys basketball: Knights rebound with win over Centennial
The Johnson boys bounced back after a loss to Grayson on Friday with a 94-72 win Saturday night over Centennial in the Duluth Jingle Jam.
10:43PM ( 1 year ago )
Girls basketball: Dawson falls in Battle of States finals
Dawson County fell behind early and could not complete the comeback in a 70-65 loss to Hayesville, N.C. in the championship game of The Battle of the States Tournament Saturday night.
10:38PM ( 1 year ago )
High School Sports
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
(VIDEO) Game of the Week: Knights, Spartans expect intense 'Battle of Oakwood'
Talk to anyone involved -- the “Battle of Oakwood” definitely has that air of something a bit special...
9:00PM ( 2 hours from now )
Week 1: GHS, Johnson look to avenge losses to highlight marquee matchups
After last week’s Hors d'oeuvres, the main course of the 2015 high school football schedule finally arrives this week.
7:26PM ( 1 hour from now )
WR looks like Falcons' deepest position heading into season
Like all NFL teams, the Atlanta Falcons have some worrisome positions...
9:43AM ( 8 hours ago )
Former powerhouse Braves struggling to finish a lost season
This was not unexpected. Not after the Atlanta Braves traded away just about anyone with a major league pulse...
9:34AM ( 8 hours ago )
NASCAR Notebook: Dillon determined to gain ground
Chris Buescher gambled at Bristol and almost came up big. The key word in the previous sentence: ‘Almost.’
8:00AM ( 10 hours ago )