|Jackie and Kenneth (Mike) Johnson with Attorney Benjamin Crump|
Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - By Christian Boone - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Despite seemingly ironclad alibis, two teen sons of an FBI agent remain a focus of the federal probe into the January 2013 death of a Valdosta high school student found dead inside a rolled-up gym mat.
Michael Moore, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, has said little beyond his initial pronouncement on Halloween 2013 “that a sufficient basis exists for my office to conduct a formal review of the facts and investigation surrounding the death of Kendrick Johnson.”
Letters he sent to the brothers informing them they were “target(s) of the grand jury’s investigation” into Johnson’s death indicate Moore is skeptical about the official finding that the 17-year-old’s death was accidental. A “target” is a person “to whom the prosecutor or the grand jury has substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant,” according to the United States Attorneys’ Manual.
The boys’ father, FBI agent Rick Bell, also received a target letter, alleging possible civil rights violations. It’s not known whether target letters were sent to anyone else.
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“This is a witch hunt,” said the boys’ mother, Karen Bell. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is not naming the brothers because they were juveniles at the time of the alleged incident. “The only reason our sons are being attacked is because their dad is an FBI agent. It fits into their claim that this is a conspiracy.”
Meanwhile, Johnson’s parents won’t be content unless charges are brought, said their attorney, Benjamin Crump. “They want the people who killed their son to be held accountable,” he said.