|Kenneth and Jackie Johnson with their attorney, Benjamin Crump (NBP background)|
The following article, "The Devil Went down to Georgia", was authored by Robin Postell under the pen name "Early Greer". I verified this with Robin directly. I told Robin I would write a rebuttal to the article...I hope she's reading. Leigh Touchton, activist and former 4 term President of the Valdosta-Lowndes NAACP, kindly agreed to contribute to this rebuttal.
The Devil Went Down to Georgia: Kendrick Johnson's Mysterious Death and a Small-Town Cover-Up [link]
by EarlyGeer (Robin Postell) Mar 25, 2014 3:34am PDT
Robin Postell: A year has passed since Kendrick Johnson’s body was discovered Friday January 11, 2013, in the Lowndes High School “Old Gym,” appearing badly beaten, head-first in a vertically-stacked gym mat.
Re-Newsit: He only appeared "badly beaten" to Victor Blackwell and the attorneys CB King and Benjamin Crump. He was, in fact, not "beaten" at all. The second autopsy, paid for by said attorneys, noted "blunt force trauma" - a blow to his neck with further investigation needed - even if true, no indication of a "badly beaten" anything. William Anderson, the controversial pathologist who performed the second autopsy, has worked with the Johnson family attorney Benjamin Crump in the past on at least three other cases.The peer reviewed, first autopsy was performed by a highly respected Medical Examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). Her finding was accidental positional asphyxia. Her disection of Kendrick's neck is described within her autopsy report...a step Dr. Anderson mistakenly said the GBI ME did not take in her autopsy. Clearly, she did.
Leigh Touchton: "Dr. Maryanne Gaffney-Kraft’s work was peer reviewed by at least 2 other GBI Medical examiners, including her supervisor, Dr. Kris Sperry, who would later give an interview to an Atlanta television station stating, unequivocally, that he stands by Dr. Maryanne Gaffney-Kraft’s work. Dr. Gaffney-Kraft had previously rendered the diagnosis of murder due to strangulation of a young black woman at Valdosta State University who was initially said to have died of natural causes, specifically, a seizure, by local Coroner Bill Watson (who has no forensic training other than a week-long course in how to determine if the body is in fact dead)".
Insufferable behavior by local media and law enforcement about those first moments continue to plague the case.
Re-Newsit: An understated but spot-on observation regarding Victor Blackwell of CNN, but local law enforcement and local media behaved professionally. CNN’s Victor Blackwell has authored numerous sensational tabloid coverage and steadfastly refused to air interviews conducted with local officials that rebut his claims of murder conspiracy.
Few in the area will speak out, even anonymously, in opposition to the most likely hired-hands running the indefatigable online spin campaign pushing the accidental death theory. (Bold emphasis mine)
Re-Newsit: Locals who have spoken out: Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine, Deputy Stryde Jones of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department, Superintendent Wes Taylor of Lowndes County School System, Leigh Touchton, former president of Valdosta-Lowndes NAACP, Rev. Floyd Rose, president of Valdosta Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The Valdosta Daily Times has published a series of factual articles based on evidence and interviews with numerous local law enforcement and school officials as well as the two most prominent civil rights leaders in Valdosta. Postell has apparently based her “report” on the spin machine taking place on social media, whereby a series of Public Relations Marketing folks have been paid by the Johnson family and their attorneys to promote falsehoods in order to sensationalize this case.
|Kendrick Lamar Johnson|
Questions which deserve answering have clearly been obscured with deliberate and methodical chaos distribution.
Re-Newsit: This sentence is incomprehensible. Chaos distribution sounds like term that conspiracy theorists use. I invite Ms Postell to show me this deliberate and methodical chaos. Perhaps she is referring to those who dispute the "beaten beyond recognition" tweets on twitter...or the "he was boiled to hide evidence" nonsense on the Real Justice Now facebook page. Maybe the statements by Kenneth Johnson that Kendrick's "windpipe and tongue were removed". It is only "chaos" for those without knowledge of the case (via the case file, not CNN), when they are struggling to debate real facts with bogus and unfounded claims.
Even the Johnsons, Kendrick's parents, family and friends, will not speak about what they know.
Re-Newsit: Then this author will assume the campaign started by the Johnson family and attorneys, "if you know something, say something", does not apply to them.
Attacked viciously by former white NAACP (Lowndes Chapter, 5-years) President Leigh Touchton, whose husband is an attorney for one of the city's oldest and most powerful families (Langdale), the Johnsons have showed up 6-days-a-week protesting and demanding answers on the courthouse steps.
Re-Newsit: Leigh Touchton has copious amounts of evidence and interview testimony to support her public statements. Leigh had the courage to tell the truth in the face of harassing phone calls and death threats. In this case she investigated and bought the entire case file...did you? CB King was trying to run a scam and she called him out....his attack on the people of Valdosta's intelligence is what the citizens of Valdosta should be raging against.
|Atty Benjamin Crump, Jackie and Kenneth Johnson, Atty Cheven King|
Leigh Touchton: “I am firmly convinced that the Johnson family and their attorneys have repeatedly lied to the public. If they “feel attacked”, then maybe they should quit lying to the public.”
Touchton's close associates from her NAACP days refused to discredit her, and still do; a quality she has not found mutually exclusive.
Leigh Touchton: "I think that statement “Touchton’s close associates from her NAACP days refused to discredit her” ought to be repeated until it sinks in."
Her years as an advocate seem suddenly to have sharply and inexplicably turned tide and has been rescued from the trolling underpinnings of blog posts related to the case by a George Zimmerman supporter.
Re-Newsit: "Rescued from the trolling underpinnings" apparently refers to Leigh's rebuttals to about a dozen anonymous posters on the Ebony magazine website where Fred Rosen posted a series of un-fact-checked and un-researched articles accusing children of murdering Kendrick Johnson. As regards "George Zimmerman supporter" -- to be clear, I am a supporter of self-defense and due process, whether it be George Zimmerman, Marissa Alexander, or you.
Her litany of breathless commentary found a home on www.Re-Newsit.com, as has the mother of two of Kendrick Johnson's fellow classmates with whom it has been alleged he had carried on an ongoing conflict.
Re-Newsit: Rich for Postell to disparage my blog since most everything I write is sourced and she's sourced absolutely nothing here. Karen was interviewed by another media outlet and I simply expounded upon her and her family's story. As for the "alleged ongoing conflict"...there was ONE shoving match on a bus full of jocks going to a football game. What is this author's point? Is she suggesting that Jocks who shove each other turn out to be murderers? Really? As for Leigh's "breathless commentary finding a home" on my blog...I asked Leigh if I could use her comments that I had found drowning in a sea of ignorant and low information posts on Ebony. As an aside, I'd like to thank Ms Postell for the plug in the last excerpt, it's a shame she removed her article so quickly or I'd have returned the favor sooner.
Leigh Touchton: “I interviewed the school resource officer who drove Kendrick Johnson home from the football game at which the shoving match occurred. No one has ever documented an “ongoing conflict” between Kendrick Johnson and the football players currently accused by the Johnson family. Instead, what HAS been documented is a police report involving the sister of Kendrick Johnson and other un-named assailants and a young black man who was NOT a student at Lowndes High School. This young man is currently incarcerated in the Lowndes County jail, and he was interviewed a second time as to the identity of his alleged assailants whom he claims beat him up on January 11, 2013. The only person in the group that allegedly beat him that he chose to identify was the sister of Kendrick Johnson. He stated to police officers: “I guess KJ [is dead] that why his sister came with them to try and get me.” When asked why he would be blamed for KJ’s death he said “I dunno.” When interviewed a second time at the Lowndes County Jail, he again refused to identify his assailants, other than the sister of Kendrick Johnson.”
The family and their attorneys have never publicly accused this young black man but have spent nearly a year and a half accusing white children who had rock solid alibis. In addition to claiming that this “shoving match” was the basis for retaliation leading to KJ’s murder, the father and their attorney Chevene King claimed that the shoving match occurred relatively recently to KJ’s death. In fact, it occurred over a year prior to his death, and KJ and the boy they accused of killing him were friends. The fact that both accused boys have rock solid alibis and that these alibis were told, repeatedly, to the Johnson family and their attorney Chevene King did not stop them from lying to the entire Georgia NAACP State Conference on a telephone call on July 25, 2013.
I resigned from the NAACP immediately thereafter because the state president at the time, Edward Dubose, claimed that the entire GBI and FBI in the state of Georgia was corrupt and routinely covered up the murders of black men and that it was obvious that Kendrick Johnson was murdered, and that despite having read the case file and autopsy report "there was no other explanation other than that he was murdered." Edward Dubose had been told, repeatedly, that the entire Valdosta NAACP Executive Committee voted UNANIMOUSLY not to pursue any direct actions on behalf of the Johnson family because the family was not telling the truth publicly. Former President Edward Dubose refused to take calls from our local branch president Matthew Loveday, who also resigned over this. Edward Dubose refused to participate in conference calls with Regional Director Kevin Myles when we told him, over and over, that the family and their attorney were lying. Former President Dubose would never provide the Valdosta branch of the NAACP with any evidence to back up these outrageous claims regarding the GBI and FBI. Former President Edward Dubose did not run for re-election, but has continued to be a public supporter of the Johnson family at all of their carefully staged public events. I’ve known Edward Dubose for years and never saw him behave in such an unprofessional and detrimental manner concerning the reputation of the Georgia NAACP.”
The questions should not be difficult to answer, yet they are without fail dismissed as fantastical musings as if from mentally unhinged counter-culture activists.
Re-Newsit: Spot on with the "mentally unhinged" description...
@karen1atl @VP_Renewsit KJ is still here told me it was no accident darling dead people still speak & only truth you'll be free when you die
— Mamakajiwin (@AngelDevil1166) April 23, 2014
Do they pay income tax on lies I know that bitch gets paid for these nonsense blogs she said she takes on these cases http://t.co/SyUY7cC5Dm— Mamakajiwin (@AngelDevil1166) April 20, 2014
Coroners and sheriffs are known for lies in #AlfredWright #KendrickJohnson now http://t.co/GIAKF2xqdr what was cause of death Clown ?— Mamakajiwin (@AngelDevil1166) April 20, 2014
Of 3000 students, #AnonymousEmailer says belief that ppl she named in the email were involved in murdering #KendrickJohnson, is "rampant".— Sheryl Kaye (@_sherylkaye_) April 19, 2014
Accidental death or blunt force in #KendrickJohnson case? Sadly, looks to me like poor investigation & compromised evidence. #OnTheCase— Darren Kavinoky (@DarrenKavinoky) April 4, 2014
@karen1atl @VP_Renewsit It was a murder, soon people will admit it. If you spend time disparaging the kid's family, you are a racist.
— PhoebeWeKnowTheTRUTH (@PhoebeWeatherfi) April 22, 2014
|Deleted tweet from above|
Social media recently shows the most probable suspects enjoying Spring Break beach partying, arms around blonds in bikinis
Re-Newsit: Careful, there are no probable suspects.. (Slander Per Se)
and not looking the least bit concerned that a federal investigation is ongoing and over 100 students from their high school have been subpoenaed before a Macon, Georgia Grand Jury only days ago.
Re-Newsit: I believe your number is off, Ben Crump is quoted as saying "half the town of Valdosta" was subpoenaed..about 50,000 would be more accurate, according to Crump.
Leigh Touchton: "There were not 100 students nor was “half the town of Valdosta” subpoenaed. While the attorneys for the Johnson family might wish that were the case, the facts are that a handful of children were subpoenaed. These were predominantly white children that the Johnson family has repeatedly claimed had some kind of vendetta against their child. In reality, the two “main suspects” publicly accused by Kenneth Johnson and their attorney Chevene King, have rock solid alibis and one of them was actually Kendrick’s friend. Kendrick used to spend the night at his friend’s house. The Johnson family and their attorneys, Chevene King and Benjamin Crump, continue to accuse their child’s white friends even though they have been told, repeatedly, that these children could not have been involved in any way.
THIS CASE WILL SET PRECEDENT IN HOW CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS ARE HANDLED1. Who actually found the body? Different accounts say that the students in Coach Pieplow’s Phys Ed class did; another account claims the school janitors did; another account states that the coach did. Bryant Thagard’s report was seemingly buried and replaced by Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine’s own account.
Re-Newsit: This paragraph is completely erroneous and not supported by any investigative reports from law enforcement. If the author had bothered to read the case file she would know this. It appears that the soul source for the "school janitors" finding him was an early report that was nonsense and wholly unsubstantiated. As for the then 16 yr old Bryant Thagard, why would his report take priority over the Sheriff's report? I don't see any real and meaningful discrepancies, what am I missing?
2. In what condition and position was Johnson discovered? According to Johnson’s parents, Kenneth and Jackie, they were initially told that he wasn’t found in the mat but beside it,
Re-Newsit: Told by whom?
Leigh Touchton: "Kenneth and Jacqui Johnson have been given information over and over again about their son’s death, these facts were imparted to them in the presence of teachers, counselors, medical examiners, attorneys, and law enforcement officials. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson either cannot comprehend verbal communications or they are purposefully twisting every statement given to them. Basically either they are unable to process information correctly or they are lying for ulterior motive. The reader can decide. Furthermore, I recommend Postell read the entire case file. Students and Coach Piepelow saw Kendrick’s body inside the vertical mat, but subsequent officials saw his body partially protruding from the overturned mat, and then later folks who arrived at the scene, in particular the Coroner, saw his body lying next to the mat. Apparently Postell can’t process sequential information."
and from various photographs and statements from reports in the crime report and related media the body was described in a variety of positions - sometimes he was halfway in and halfway out, while photographs show his white-socked feet nearly halfway inside the 6’ mat (Johnson was 5’10”), with his white shoes he’d worn into the gym neatly placed - clearly by someone other than Johnson himself - next to his feet. Some accounts claim the students who were climbing on top of the mats saw his feet sticking out of the mats, which would actually make sense considering his height and the dimensions of the mat, including its center hole’s circumference.
Re-Newsit: With all due respect, one can't help but believe the problem here may be a lack of critical thinking and/or comprehension skills on Postell's part. If said author had read the crime scene reports (see tab at the top of this blog "Kendrick Johnson"), she would discover the reason for the "variety of positions". The two students who were on top of the mat said they saw feet "inside" the mat, not siticking Kendrick's feet sticking out of the mat and when the coach pulled the mat down from its vertical position, Kendrick's body fell out to just above his waist. Crime scene photos depict this. No photos are available of his body in the mats prior to the coach pulling them down to rescue him.
To squeeze himself down into the center of a 14” wide entry would’ve meant a fair amount of effort on his part would have been necessary to squeeze down to the bottom where the shoe allegedly was - in order for his feet not to be protruding.
|Excerpt from Lowndes County Sheriff's Incident report 13-01-1520|
Leigh Touchton: The width of his shoulders as well as the width of the mat is basically irrelevant, his shoulders were angled, he was found with one arm stretched over his head, one bent along his body, thus the angle of his shoulders was oblique, this is how a baby is positioned who is too big for a birth canal, the doctor pushes one shoulder back, and pulls one shoulder forward. The photograph of Kenneth Johnson trying to push his shoulders straight into one of the foam mats is a false representation because that is not how his son was found. The mats are not rock solid, there is substantial give to the foam, the weight of Kendrick’s body could have easily wedged him tighter and tighter as he struggled. No other explanation fits the preponderance of the evidence."
However, had his feet been visible then students who were coming and going in and out of the Old Gym (it was a kind of catch-all for school traffic, where kids would loaf, shoot hoops, practice color guard and cheerleading) all the remainder of that Thursday would no doubt have seen this immediately.
Re-Newsit: The mats are 6' in length and the one Kendrick was found in was said to be behind around 20 other mats. The students were crawling on top of the mats when they spotted his feet. Again, the two girls who discovered Kendrick in the mats never said his feet were sticking out...they said they saw his feet "inside" the mat. [LINK}
Then, following this game, as is shown in the footage released by the school of the surveillance cameras, someone walks into the gym during the night, in the mostly dark, and a light turns off. Janitors, took, would have seen protruding feet or any blood on the wall - not to mention the crime scene particulars such as the scattered Physical Science textbook belonging to Johnson, and the folder - both in scattered disarray. The shoes, too, would not have escaped the janitor’s scrutiny, since the Lowndes High School standards are high.
Re-Newsit: The blood on the wall you are referring to was behind the rolled up mats, they wouldn't have seen it. Kendrick's books came off the top of the mats (where Kendrick had placed them), when they were pulled down by the coach.
In other words, had Johnson actually tried to shimmy down into the too-small hole for a shoe, instead of tipping it over and grabbing it as his friends blustered about as being the only logical thing to do, then his feet would have definitely been sticking out, as well as part of his legs - assuming he would have had his arms extended instead of pinned to his side (he was diving into a mat, not water, after all), adding many inches to his 5’10”frame - thus protruding at least a good foot out of the 6’ mat. Instead, it is easy enough to deduce that someone intentionally made sure he was down deep enough in the mat to not be discovered.
Re-Newsit: First of all, the mats were upright and stacked against the gym wall. The mat Kendrick's shoe was allegedly in was behind at least 20 other assorted mats. To an invincible teenage boy, it would be easier just to try and reach the shoe, never dreaming he was going into a death trap, than to pull down and re-stack all the mats.. Secondly, the crime scene photos do not show his arms "pinned to his side" , so I'm not at all sure where this is coming from. Source? In the crime scene reports he is described with one arm above his head and folded down toward his body.
2. What time was Johnson actually discovered? This continues to be a highly questionable point, and an important one. In some early reports the body was found much earlier than the crime report seems to suggest. Crime Scene Investigator James Thornton wrote that paramedics arrived around 10:30 a.m. and he arrived roughly 15 minutes later. But there have been conflicting statements that the students were Tweeting and texting about the body being found before the teachers even knew about it, before 10 a.m.
Re-Newsit: Patently not true. What earlier reports? News reports? Tweets: I have the tweets HERE and none of them were made prior to the discovery of Kendrick Johnson's body. The time zone that you are in will be reflected on the tweets, not the time zone of the person tweeting, unless, of course, they are in the same time zone.
And one student Tweeted his emphatic recollection that the body had been moved out of the gym on a stretcher with paramedics before he and his classmates in Coach Pieplow’s class were herded out to be relocated. This bears thorough review by federal investigators since CNN reports airing footage from video surveillance tapes - though blurry - from that gym area show a nurse running through, followed by a gurney.
Re-Newsit: 522 pages of case file testimony from dozens of eyewitnesses counteract what this one child thinks they remember.
Other Tweets from students, including one who was attempting to cover it for his Journalism class (who made a call to 911, Tweeting later that he regretted having done so) - broke each moment down, blow-by-blow, creating a compelling scene, capturing the chaos and oddities of what he reported was a homicide.
Re-Newsit: Was he also studying crime scene investigations? I have not seen this in any of the official reports....source? I only see it referenced on your blog.
He had walked into the gym trying to get more information and was told to leave the area.
Re-Newsit: You think?
He and his friends did not buy the story about Johnson’s nosedive into the mat for a shoe, their plainspeak banter dismissing incredulously anyone would do something so ridiculous. They also mused over the “jacket,” presumably the one which is seen around Johnson’s waist, and whether it would be taken into evidence - expressing with baffled disdain why certain things weren’t taken in as evidence, such as the shoe found supposedly beneath Johnson - which, they pointed out, had no blood on it, just under it
|That is a belt around his waist, not a jacket|
Additionally, the blood dripping down the wall seemed to be the most extraordinary element and hardest of all to believe - since, they said, even a single drop would have been immediately removed.
Re-Newsit: There was no blood actively "dripping down the wall". My God....do I even continue this? Is anyone familiar with the case even going to get this far into your article? I doubt it....I'll try to go on, just in case they do. The blood was dried and old, this is in the reports. The blood did not come from Kendrick, it was tested. The VERY small amt that has been magnified for effect, was BEHIND the mats. Regardless, experts stated the blood was too old to be relevant to this case. Experts, not teenagers tweet-investigating the case.
Speaking of which....here is what another teenager heard from some others who were obviously "musing" about the case:
Everybody watch the news at 11 I heard he got stabbed and his neck was broke ..— Cúpïd (@bitcheslovesolo) January 12, 2013
That the blood had not been tested confounded them as well.
Re-Newsit: Postell wrote this article in March, 2014, and still saw fit to leave this in? The OLD blood was tested and found not to be Kendrick's blood. Why would they test 3,000 students to see if the old blood belonged to them? Maybe you weren't thinking ALL the students, just a couple? And the blood could have even come from a basketball player on a visiting team. A judge was not going to give the investigators permission to DNA swab all 3,000 students at Lowndes High because the very old dried blood on the wall could not possibly have been related to Kendrick Johnson’s death. When that blood was deposited there, Kendrick was alive and well. Deductive analysis is not a strong suit of this author.
3. Why was the family not allowed to see and identify Johnson’s body?
Leigh Touchton: The father was allowed to see his son’s body, two deputies and one crime lab technician were present. This was a breach of protocol that Sheriff Chris Prine authorized because the father was pleading for closure, begging to be allowed to see his son. He later used this breach of protocol to make false allegations that the body cooler was sabotaged in order to “cook” his son’s body to destroy evidence.
Since Sheriff Chris Prine continued to tell the press and anyone who was listening it was just an accident, even before any investigation had been performed, or cause of death had been determined, Georgia law has certain protocol to be followed as far as how the body is handled, where and by whom it is dispatched.
Re-Newsit: Sheriff Prine did not tell anyone "it was just an accident" before the investigation was completed. He told parents there didn't appear to be any signs of foul play in order to ease their minds. He relied upon the experts for this information. In fact, the Johnson family was told by Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine that “based on their initial examination, Kendrick did not die of foul play.” The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department was relying on the examination of Valdosta Crime Lab forensic investigators as well as six GBI agents who were initially called to the death scene.
Leigh Touchton: There were no gunshot wounds, no stab wounds, and the body was swollen and decomposing, not beaten. Numerous forensic investigators with years of training and experience collected evidence at the scene and made a cursory examination of the body. Based on their combined expertise, they told Sheriff Prine that it did not appear that the child had been beaten to death. Sheriff Prine made this statement to the bereaved family in an effort to provide them with some measure of solace and because he was trying to be compassionate. There were school officials present when Sheriff Chris Prine made this statement to the bereaved mother and sister. Instead of accepting his words in the context in which they were delivered (based on initial examination of the body and death scene) and even though they knew that the body was being sent to Macon to be autopsied by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for a diagnosis that would be based on internal examination, the family immediately began publicly claiming that “Sheriff Prine had ruled the death accidental, no foul play.” This is totally untrue.
Accidental death of a victim would ordinarily mean the body would be at the hospital or morgue, not transported by a high-level security Valdosta Police Department officer, Steve Owens, who dubiously owns Owens Transport (though at time of writing this business has yet to be found in any formal business registries).
Re-Newsit: Owens Transport Manta Report
How else would the body get to the hospital or morgue without being transported? As far as the place of business, Owen's Transport, and anything untoward, you might ask coroner Bill Watson about: From crime scene report: "Steve owens from owens Transiport was contacted by Lowndes county corner Bill watson to conduct the removal ancl transpo'rt of the body to the Valdosta-Lowndes Regional Crime Laboratory." .
Robin Postell:GA DEATH INVESTIGATION HISTORY
The state recognizes it enables counties to continue being dependent on it, therefore Owens Transport presumably is doing a good deed by taking on this responsibility/cost?If Owens Transport sub-contracts, this fact has not been made public - and it is public information and should be readily available/accessible.
The fact that the coroner was not called for at least six hours and the accounts that the body had been moved out of the gym on a gurney by paramedics raises serious, if not sinister, concerns - and explains why Coroner Bill Watson was vituperative in his April interview when he stated that the scene upon his arrival had been compromised severely and there was little or no cooperation from members of law enforcement on the scene - and most strikingly, his emphatic declaration that the body had been moved.
Re-Newsit: From what I understand, and I cannot source this directly to Sheriff Prine...he did not want Watson called because Watson is a media hound and Prine (allegedly), did not want the media to get the story wrong the way they did in another case Watson was Coroner for, the death of teenager Jasmine Benjamin. You may recall the case, Jasmine was murdered in her dorm over the Thanksgiving holiday, 2012.
Valdosta, GA, November 19, 2012 - On Sunday afternoon Valdosta State University students discovered that one of their own had unexpectedly passed away.
17 year old Jasmine Cathleen Benjamin was a freshman from Lawrenceville Georgia. She died over the weekend and was discovered on Sunday around noon.
She was found lying on a couch in a study room in this building, Georgia Hall, on Campus.
Ryan Ryke is a Valdosta State University Student. He said "the last thing I would think of is death when going to college. Especially as a freshman."
According to the Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson there was no indication of suicide or foul play.
Two days later:
Valdosta, GA - November 21, 2012, 5:57pm - A 17-year old Valdosta State University student's death is now being called A homicide. Members of VSU's police, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Valdosta Police have been working around the clock in what they've now confirmed is a homicide. [LINK] (All emphasis mine)
In Kendrick's case, as he was in Jasmine's case, Bill Watson regretted speaking to reporters too soon. Or it could just be that Bill Watson does not like being made to wait around at a crime scene....someone should ask him about James Eunice.
That Johnson’s body was not identified by a family member is inexplicable, and again, raises serious skepticism. His parents had already been distraught even before his body was found, and knowing that their son was in a facility only a few blocks from where they lived must have been devastating. It would not be until the 14th that Kenneth Johnson was allowed to see the body and when he did he stated later that he was glad his wife had not been there.
Leigh Touchton: "It is NOT standard protocol for a family to be allowed to view a body that has been taken into custody, because the body is evidence and the evidence must be preserved via the chain of custody. If their child WERE murdered, the defense attorney would be able to use this point of the father looking at his child’s body to plant the seed in the minds of a jury that the father planted evidence. That’s why the chain of custody is so important. Sheriff Prine should never have let Kenneth Johnson see his child’s body before the autopsy but he did so because he thought he was helping a grieving father. The forensic investigators had collected a lot of evidence by this point and all of them were saying basically the same thing: this looks like an accident.
It is ridiculous that the Johnson family cannot understand that scientists and medical examiners have been trained to make these kinds of determinations. It is ridiculous that anyone with no medical background would look at the swollen and decomposed face of this child and conclude that “he was beaten to death” when they clearly don’t know what they are even looking at! Furthermore, it is a falsehood perpetuated by the Johnson family and their two attorneys to continue to claim that the post-autopsy face of their child is how Kendrick looked when he was found dead. In the autopsy, the skin is cut near the hairline and pulled down over the face, disconnected from the underlying musculature, so that the muscles can be examined.
Muscles will record signs of bruising and battery more accurately than facial skin, which had already started to decompose and pull away from the face due to “skin slippage.” The family and their attorneys have been told over and over that the post-autopsy photograph is not how their child appeared when he was found at Lowndes High School. Kenneth Johnson has given statements to local folks saying “he doesn’t care” if people are misinformed and draw the wrong conclusions about the state of his son’s face. . In regards to Dr. William Anderson, the Johnson family attorney found a pathologist with NO, as in ZERO, experience researching positional asphyxia, who delivered an analysis that is so nebulous that most folks with common sense would immediately discount it as “gun for hire”. But the Johnson family thinks Dr. William Anderson alone is more credible than six GBI agents, 3 medical examiners at the accredited lab where the autopsy was performed, and 13 forensic investigators at the Valdosta Crime Lab. It’s completely irrational to most people, but not to the Johnson family or Postell"
At least 20 law officers, agents - from the sheriff’s department, local crime lab, and state officials from the nearest Georgia Bureau of Investigation office in Thomasville, 45 miles away, the coroner’s office (eventually) - first responders (fire department and EMTs), school staff, and students had seen the 17-year-old’s disfigured body lying prone on the gym floor - but not his mother, who had arrived at the school early to question staff and look for her missing son.
Re-Newsit: All of the above would naturally have seen KJ's body, it was their job to be there. The other students were not invited into the gym for a viewing...they had discovered his body. As far as Jackie arriving early to look for her missing son...this is not why Jackie went to the school that morning...or at least it was not the only reason.
Jackie and Kenyetta, with a small boy in tow, arrived at the high school at approximately 8:45 on January 11, 2013, to ask about Kenyetta's latest High School graduation scores. The counselor, Dana Hutchinson, gave Kenyetta and Jackie the scores and information Kenyetta needed in order to pass the test.
From a written and signed statement by a school guidance counselor, Dana Hutchinson [13-01-1520] dated January 11, 2013, can be found in the case file:
"I left them (Mrs. J, Kenyetta and boy) in my office and went to Mrs. Gaston's classroom to get some study materials for Kenyetta. -10 minutes later approx. I went back to my office and explained all of the paperwork Mrs. Gason gave me to Kenyetta and Mrs. J. -Kenyetta got up and walked out of my office. -Mrs. Johnson asked me if report cards went out on Thursday and if I would print Kendrick's for her. -She then said he did not come home that night. I printed the report card and gave it to her. -She asked me if he was listed as a Junior yet and I told her no. He would need to pass all of his classes this semester to reach Jr. status. -I told her I would check Infinite Campus to see if he was in school on Thursday. -I pulled his attendance up for Thursday, and I told her he was marked absent for 4th block.
The counselor then proceeded to call in a student and several of KJ's teachers to confirm which classes he had been present in on Thursday, the 10th. All said he was present except his 4th block instructor; he told Mrs. Johnson KJ had not attended his 4th block weight training class. Mrs. Hutchinson then called a Deputy Adams and told him KJ had not come home the night before.
Dana Hutchinson's statement cont.:
"Mrs. Johnson got a text from someone, or a call and asked me if I knewthere was an ambulance and fie trucks on campus. I did not know, no one had said anything to me."
The statement goes on to explain how Jackie Johnson asked for several students to be called out of class in order that she might ask them if they'd seen KJ. The counselor called in several students, the first being the young man that was assaulted later the next day by Jackie's relatives, including Kenyetta Johnson. The young man was asked if he had been to the ball game the night before...he said he had not. The counselor asked him if he wanted to tell this to Mrs. Johnson and he said "no". The counselor relayed to Jackie that the young man had not been to the game. Other students were asked if they'd seen Kendrick since 3rd block on Thursday and all said they had not seen him.
While waiting for one of the students the counselor was called out by the school social worker and into another office. The social worker told Mrs. Hutchinson and the other counselors that a body had been found in the gym, but the Sheriff had not confirmed. Dana, in her statement, said that she and the other counselors did not see the need in telling anyone until the administrator confirmed the information. After speaking to the last student about Kendrick, Jackie asked why the school was on lock-down and said she needed someone to come and get the little boy and that person could not get back on campus. Mrs. Hutchinson said she would see what she could do. Jackie left the office with Mrs. Hutchinson and said she would go outside and meet the person to pick up the little boy.
This was at 10:41, according to the affidavit. My question is, where did Kenyetta go when she left the office in a huff (my words and reading between the lines).
She noticed the turmoil and immediately her instincts told her they had found her son. When they told her that yes, it was Kendrick, she collapsed.His family had filed a missing person’s report the night before, having been distraught almost immediately when he did not come home from school on January 10, Thursday.
Re-Newsit: Her call to report KJ missing came in after 11:00 PM...(check documents for exact time).
His mother, Jackie, had been a school bus driver for Lowndes County School System for ten years and it was common for Kendrick to catch a ride with her. She knew her son and it was not adding up - and whatever else she and her family knew was fueling their heightened state of distress.
Re-Newsit: Bold emphasis mine. The bold portion of the last paragraph is curious. Any idea where this came from? Any idea what they "knew" before KJ's body was ever found? Is that why one teen was assaulted by Kendrick's family members?
A friend of the family said that when Kendrick had not returned Thursday, phones were lighting up. “I got the call from my friend at 4:30 pm on Thursday and she said, ‘They got Kj.’” What did the family and the family’s closest friends know? And why aren’t they speaking out more? Yet another question.
Re-Newsit: Bold emphasis mine: You aren't kidding "another question". Who said this? Quoting an unnamed source? So someone said "they got KJ" at 4:30 and Jackie waited hours to call police??? I'm guessing they aren't speaking out more because they acted a little too quickly based on rumors...although I can't help but believe the person is mistaken on the day..
Students who already knew that Kendrick Johnson was their fallen classmate in the gym saw Jackie crumple to her knees at the moment she heard the news, many of them Tweeting about it and expressing great sorrow for her loss.
Re-Newsit: God bless her, no one should have to go through that. It is said that losing a child is the worst pain imaginable. I sincerely feel great compassion for her in this regard. She'll never believe that, but I honestly do. I felt, at first, that she was trying to blame his death on someone killing him instead of facing the horror he must have gone through while trying to free himself from that mat. Once she started throwing innocent children under the bus and trying to ruin their lives, my compassion for HER waned considerably....but never for Kendrick - God rest his soul.
Check back for Part II - I will address the remainder of The Devil Went Down to Georgia, written by Robin Postell and initially published in the Daily Kos under the name of "EarlyGreen".
All documents relating to this case can be found under the "Kendrick Johnson" tab at the top of this blog.