Daily Updates

October 10, 2013

Trayvon family lawyer joins outcry over Georgia death

SAVANNAH — The attorney who helped push for a criminal prosecution in Trayvon Martin’s shooting said Thursday that he’s joining the fight to reopen an investigation into the death of a Georgia teenager whose body was found inside a rolled-up wrestling mat at school.

The body of Kendrick Johnson, 17, was found Jan. 11 in south Georgia, and Lowndes County sheriff’s investigators concluded that he died in a freak accident — falling headfirst into an upright mat and becoming trapped. But Johnson’s family believes he was killed and has been pressuring authorities into taking a second look at the case.

Now the family has enlisted the help of Tallahassee, Fla.-based attorney Benjamin Crump. Best known as the lawyer who helped focus national attention on the February 2012 shooting death of Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, Crump has pursued several civil rights cases against law enforcement agencies. He said Johnson’s parents came to him seeking help.

“This is a real-life murder mystery where these parents sent their child to school with a book bag and he was returned to them in a body bag,” Crump said in a phone interview. “They brought me in to make sure this is not able to be swept under the rug in small-town Georgia and they never get justice for their child.”

School officials found Johnson’s body in the gym after his parents reported him missing the night before. He was stuck upside down in the middle of a wrestling mat that had been rolled up and propped upright behind bleachers.

Sheriff Chris Prine has said he suspected Johnson became trapped while trying to retrieve a shoe that fell into the center of the large rolled mat. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner concluded that the youth died from positional asphyxia, his body stuck in a position in which he couldn’t breathe.

But the teen’s parents, Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson, hired Dr. William R. Anderson to provide a second opinion after a judge agreed in May to exhume the body. The private pathologist performed his own autopsy in June and presented a four-page report of his findings Aug. 15.

Anderson’s report said he detected hemorrhaging on the right side of Johnson’s neck. The pathologist concluded the teenager had died from blunt force trauma near his carotid artery and that the fatal blow appeared to be “non-accidental.”

GBI spokeswoman Sherry Lang said the agency stands by its original findings.

“We have an excellent team of medical examiners, and we stand by them 100 percent,” Lang said.

Johnson’s family asked the Justice Department to get involved, arguing that authorities failed to investigate Johnson’s death thoroughly because he’s black. But the Justice Department found insufficient evidence to support an investigation. U.S. Attorney Michael Moore in Macon has been monitoring the case but has yet to announce whether he’ll take any further action. Moore did not immediately return a phone message Thursday.

Crump said the Johnson family’s legal team plans to focus on getting the official manner of death in the case changed from accidental to homicide. Asked how he planned to do that, Crump said, “We’re going to have to look at getting the courts involved.” He said it was too soon to be more specific.

 

1
Text Only
Daily Updates
  • NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

    Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs.

    April 19, 2014

  • Documents detail another delayed GM recall

    Government documents show that General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands of consumer complaints and warranty repair claims.

    April 19, 2014

  • Captain of sunken SKorean ferry, 2 crew arrested

    The captain of the ferry that sank off South Korea, leaving more than 300 missing or dead, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Two crew members also were taken into custody, including a rookie third mate who a prosecutor said was steering in challenging waters unfamiliar to her when the accident occurred.

    April 19, 2014

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats

    As President Barack Obama travels through Asia this coming week, he will confront a region that’s warily watching the crisis in Ukraine through the prism of its own territorial tensions with China.

    April 19, 2014

  • Delay won’t quell 2014 wrangling over Keystone XL

    Democrats sweating this year’s elections may be hoping that the Obama administration’s latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.

    April 19, 2014

  • In Other News, April 19

    April 19, 2014

  • 5 features an Amazon phone might offer

    A report this week in The Wall Street Journal that Amazon is planning to release a smartphone has prompted industry analysts and technology blogs to muse about what the device might offer.

    April 19, 2014

  • Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

    A college student eats more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel balcony. A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting his wife in the head, possibly after eating pot-infused candy.

    April 19, 2014

  • Boston prepares for huge wave of marathon visitors

    With an expanded field of runners and the memory of last year’s bombings elevating interest in one of the world’s great races, the 2014 Boston Marathon could bring an unprecedented wave of visitors and an influx of tourism dollars to the area.

    April 19, 2014

  • Autopsy to ID dead boy; body cast off side of road

    All Massachusetts authorities could say for sure is that they found the lifeless body of a small boy, apparently cast off the side of a highway.

    April 19, 2014