By Ap Reporter
Published: 20:17 BST, 5 January 2014 | Updated: 08:45 BST, 6 January 2014
Each weekday, they appear to the aforementioned bend alfresco the canton courtuse and absorb urs camped out with agenda signs. As cars beck past, some drivers beachcomber and nk. Others occasionally bark jeers: 'Go me!' or 'Give it a rest!'
It’s been a year aback Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson’s son was begin asleep central a rolled-up gym mat at his aerial academy — the victim, board concluded, of a aberration accident. Autrities bent 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson fell head-first while extensive for a se and was trapped. Almost a abounding day anesthetized afore his anatomy was discovered.
The Johnsons, wever, do not acquire tse findings. Their attorneys say autrities may acquire covered up affirmation that addition asleep the teenager. A austere post-mortem pto of his swollen, adulterated face has been acquaint by the ancestors on beef signs and websites to advice emblage abutment for reopening the investigation.
Still fighting: Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson abide to beef adjoin a cardinal the afterlife of their 17-year-old son Kendrick was accidental, admitting no bright affirmation to the contrary
Hurt: Mr Johnson, w has a boom of his son's face on his arm, believes his son was murdered
'My ancestors won’t be annoyed until addition is abaft confined and addition is bedevilled for what happened,' Kenneth Johnson said one Friday afternoon as his wife sat with her sister and mother.
'Going over it with accepted sense, w can it be an accident?'
He’s not abandoned in wondering. Aftermost month, about 200 bodies aing Johnson’s ancestors alfresco the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta for a emblage calling for answers. The acquisition was billed as: 'W Asleep K.J.?'
Word has advance through amusing media, with one Facebook folio — R.I.P. Kendrick Johnson — cartoon added than 25,000 followers. The Florida advocate w represented Trayvon Martin’s ancestors took up the Johnsons’ account in October, cartoon added absorption to the case. Now the U.S. advocate for boilerplate Georgia is administering a academic review.
Perhaps it’s the camp address in which the was begin asleep that leaves some disbelieving.
Or abiding doubts about w badge in the South amut cases involving atramentous victims.
Or that a afflicted ancestors artlessly cannot appear to agreement with a adverse loss.
Johnson’s supporters won’t let his case be put to rest. But is there affirmation addition asleep him?
It was the morning of Jan. 11, 2013, at Lowndes Aerial Scol, a sprawling campus abounding by 3,000 acceptance abreast the Georgia-Florida accompaniment line.
Freak death: Kendrick's body, left, was begin as central a formed up mat in his aerial academy gym on January 11, 2013. About a year afterwards the ancestors are still angry for amends afterwards the badge said it was an 'accident'
Philip Pieplow’s gym chic was bushing out a survey. Some acceptance sat on the bleachers in the academy gymnasium, while others climbed aloft a array of 21 angry and cheerleading mats continuing three-deep adjoin a wall.
The rolled-up mats stood aloof over 6 anxiety high, anniversary barometer about 3 anxiety across. Anon acceptance w had clambered on top of them began babble for help. A brace of anxiety clad in socks could be apparent central the centermost aperture of one mat.
'I accomplished (and) affective one of his ankles acquisitive for a response,' Pieplow said in a accounting account included in the ytic book on Kendrick’s death.
'There was none, and I knew he was asleep at that point.'
Students began calling 911 and, aural minutes, badge and paramedics arrived.
At the aforementioned time, Jacquelyn Johnson was at the academy allurement if her son had apparent up for cl, advice advisor Dana Hutchinson afterwards told investigators.
Kendrick hadn’t appear me the night before.
The youngest of four children, Kendrick grew up in Valdosta, one of the better cities in rural south Georgia. His grandmother affectionately alleged him her 'peculiar grandchild,' because he tended to be quieter than his brothers and sisters.
Chilling: Kendrick (white shirt) is spotted on CCTV moments afore entering the scol's gym, the day afore his anatomy was found. There was no footage of him leaving
Trap: His ancestors accept he was absorbed into the gym - area acceptance abundance claimed items rather than pay a locker fee - by a 'white girl'
A inferior at Lowndes High, Kendrick fabricated boilerplate grades but had a adroitness for numbers. He kept accounts in his arch of his allowances, his ancestor says, and adored banknote in stashes througut his bedroom.
He additionally admired sports, accepting played 8th-grade basketball and football and clue aback he sed aerial scol. Afterwards demography a year off from aggregation sports, Kendrick was alive adjoin rejoining the football team, his ancestor says.
Matthew Mark Carron, an 18-year-old above football istant w was amid the acceptance board interviewed, remembered Kendrick already got into a action with addition amateur afore a game. Carron told board it was the alone abrogating affair he could bethink about Kendrick.
Deputies begin annihilation to altercation the account ancestors and accompany corrective of a admired and amenable teenager, says sheriff’s Lt. Stryde Jones, w oversaw the investigation.
'He aloof seemed like a acceptable American kid,' Jones says.
Lowndes Aerial Academy has dozens of aegis cameras watching over its hallways, entrances and parking lots. Four motion-activated cameras are acquaint in the gym area Kendrick was aftermost spotted on Jan. 10, 2013.
This claret brindled odie was begin in the gym, but its not accepted if it were affiliated to Kendrick
Police advance Kendrick died extensive for a sneaker that had collapsed into the centermost of the ed mat. The sneakers he had beat to academy were begin tucked up adjoin his legs. A abstracted sneaker (pictured) was begin tucked adjoin his arm and arch in the mat, while the added was on the attic in the gym, forth with his academy books
An acutely advancing pto of Kendrick's face (right) was released, uming it bloodied and aggrandized - arch the family's own clandestine argumentative able to say that he had been victim of edgeless force trauma. On the larboard is a account of claret begin on the gym wall. The badge ert this was not Kendrick's
Surveillance footage sws him entering the gym anon afterwards 1 p.m. and walking adjoin the far bend area the mats were stored. It doesn’t abduction him leaving, and Kendrick never swed up for his fourth-period weight training cl.
Footage appear by the Lowndes Canton Sheriff’s Appointment fails to appearance what led to Kendrick’s death. Board doubtable he was alfresco the ambit of the aing camera’s motion sensor. Instead, detectives approved to allotment calm w he died based on clues at the scene, interviews with accompany and dissection findings.
The Associated Press acquired the 522-page case book through an accessible annal appeal and advised it, forth with aegis camera footage and abomination arena and dissection ptographs, for this story.
Three acceptance told embly that some clmates kept gym ses buried abaft or below the gym mats, abnormally if they didn’t hire academy lockers. One said he and Kendrick aggregate a brace of Adidas ses and that afterwards chic the apprentice consistently would 'go to the mats, jump up and bung the ses central the boilerplate of the le'.
When Kendrick was found, the Nike ses he’d beat to academy were tucked abaft his legs central the mat. A science arbiter and a binder absolute his chic agenda and latest address agenda lay on the attic abreast the mats. Additionally on the attic was an Adidas se. Assembly begin its bout affianced below Kendrick’s arm and head.
Medical Examiner Maryanne Gaffney-Kraft begin no wounds except for a se on the aback of Kendrick’s appropriate wrist and three baby injuries on his appropriate pinky. She bent he died accidentally from 'positional asphyxia', acceptation his anatomy was as in a position that prevented him from breathing.
Shy: Kendrick is declared by accompany as 'quiet and shy' but a force to be reckoned with on the football field
After accepting the autopsy, board ured Kendrick fell into the mat while aggravating to retrieve one of his gym ses. Cipher saw him disturbing or heard him cry out, admitting a abiding beck of acceptance were in and out of the gym until 8 p.m. It’s cryptic w continued Kendrick could acquire survived, but he acceptable anesthetized out anon from claret hasty to his head, Lt. Jones says.
'We never had aboveboard advice that adumbrated this was annihilation added than an accident,' he says.
The case was bankrupt May 2. But to Kendrick’s family, it remained an baffling crime.
Kenneth Johnson doesn’t say abundant aback asked why addition ability acquire capital to annihilate his son, or w he thinks could acquire done it. The family’s attorneys told him not to altercate the case, and they additionally won’t altercate accessible suspects or motives.
'I can go as far as to say that if they’re accoutrement it up, they’re not accoutrement it up for a ody,' Kendrick’s ancestor says.
'It’s got to be a somebody.'
For tse absorbed to adios the official findings, the case has its allotment of stumbles and apart ends to ammunition alternating theories.
The abridgement of camera footage uming Kendrick’s aftermost moments has been bedeviled on by ancestors attorneys, w say they abrrence the footage was edited as allotment of a cover-up.
Images from the camera acicular adjoin the gym mats are additionally blurred. Academy admiral told board a basketball had agape the camera out of fo.
Fight: Keisha Moore, Kendrick's aunt, has been by the ancillary of the asleep boy's mother ambitious justice. Her son has not been able to beddy-bye in his own allowance aback the afterlife of his cousin
A paramedics' address acclaimed able-bodied abreast Kendrick's appropriate jaw, but no bruises were mentioned in the dissection report. Jones says the able-bodied was acceptable birthmark acquired by lividity, which occurs aback the affection stops pumping and claret settles in the body.
Investigators additionally waited to alarm the canton coroner until six urs afterwards the anatomy was found, admitting accompaniment law requires actual notification.
It was accepted convenance in Lowndes Canton to action abeyant abomination scenes first, but that has aback changed, Jones says.
While ytical of the delay, the coroner agreed the afterlife was accidental.
'At best it was incompetence,' says Benjamin Crump, an advocate for the Johnson family.
'At affliction it was some cabal to burrow the truth.'
Autrities did attending into tips that two teenagers ability acquire capital to abuse Kendrick. One was a 16-year-old dropout w told badge he didn't apperceive Kendrick and hadn't been to the academy in at atomic two years. Jones says alibis additionally disqualified him out as a suspect.
Buddies: Soloman Arrington, 16, and Rickey Giddens, 17, both of Valdosta, Ga, Kendrick's friends, w said he was the aftermost being to allure trouble
Detectives additionally approved to account the football istant with wm Kendrick had fought a year earlier, as able-bodied as the boy's brother, w additionally abounding Lowndes High. Their ancestor referred board to an attorney, w below to let autrities account the boys. The attorney, Jason Ferguson, did not acknowledgment buzz messages.
Scol annal included in the ytic book appearance one brother was absent the day Kendrick vanished. The added aggregate a morning chic with Kendrick. But board reviewing surveillance footage bent the boy never entered the gym about the time Kendrick went missing, Jones says.
Kendrick's parents acquired a cloister adjustment to disclose their son's anatomy and in a clandestine patlogist to accomplish a additional autopsy. Dr. William Anderson appear award hemorrhaging below the bark of Kendrick's jaw and close and ured he suffered a baleful draft abreast his carotid avenue that appeared to be 'non-accidental'.
Fresh look: In October the U.S. Advocate for Boilerplate Georgia Michael Moore agreed to autrity a academic ysis of the case of Kendrick Johnson (pictured)
U.S. Advocate Michael Moore in Macon stepped in Oct. 31, announcement his appointment would ysis the case, including the academy video and adverse autopsies. Tse allegation acquire not yet been released.
In Valdosta, any new advice apropos Kendrick's afterlife stirs chat at the Hair Works salon. Stylist Janis Freeman says few of her barter accept the sheriff's findings.
'There are too abounding changing questions,' she says.
The Rev. Floyd Rose, a longtime bounded civilian rights activist, says he additionally affected at aboriginal that Kendrick had been killed. He organized an aboriginal advance and sted the Rev. Al Sharpton at his abbey to draw absorption to the case.
Rose still has questions but says he has aation ertive in a cover-up. Rose says he bankrupt ranks with the Johnson ancestors aback the bulletin confused from ytic w Kendrick died to allurement absolute w asleep him.
'I accept they're hurt. Cipher has suffered added than they have,' he says. 'But they're not the alone ones w acquire suffered ... This ociation is ided.'
Kenneth Johnson says neither he nor his wife has alternate to ignment aback that January day. He is a long-haul trucker, and she a academy bus driver.
Instead, they abide their street-corner vigils. Supporters bead off hions for their chairs or cookies. Others stop and adjure with the family.
And Johnson makes clear: No one will anytime actuate them that their son's afterlife was accidental.
'I appee the apple to apperceive what happened to Kendrick,' he says.
'I appee the apple to apperceive what these animals did to our child.'
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