Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Investigation finds Lowndes HS Wrestling team left school before Kendrick Johnson's death

branden brian brandon bell
Chevene King holds a press conference to announce "new" information in case
Law enforcement officials have finished their investigation into the latest allegations by the Johnson family and their attorneys that a High School wrestling team was still on the Lowndes HS campus at the time Kendrick Johnson died.  As had been reported and documented before, they found the team had already left the school.

Last month the attorney for  the Johnson family, Chevene King, along with the Johnsons and Clennon King (Cheven's brother), held a press conference claiming NEW evidence had surfaced which suggested a member of LHS’s wrestling team, Branden Bell,  may have had motive to harm Johnson and was still on campus when Johnson was last seen on surveillance video entering the school’s old gym the day Johnson died. Even though no real motive was given (Branden and Kendrick did not really know each other), an entire minute video was made by Clennon King and dedicated to, once again, libeling the son(s) of Richard Bell, an FBI agent and his wife, Karen, a full time professional sales executive.

Surveillance video released over a year ago shows Johnson entering the old school gym at 1:25 p.m., school records cleared Brian Bell of any involvement when he was seen on the video by officials, walking to class during the time Johnson was seen entering the gym.   Branden Bell's alibi had also been verified by at least three arms of Georgia law enforcement before the case was officially closed by investigators.  Nevertheless, Chevene King distributed his video which, while admitting the younger Bell had been cleared, now implicated Branden Bell  of being somehow involved in Johnson's death.  Clennon's narrative was based on a schoool video of Branden Bell walking through a school hallway near the gym where Johnson died, preparing to leave school for a wrestling match, the morning of the day Johnson died.

The new accusations were also based on what King described as a "travel log" which he said listed 4:00 pm that day as the time of departure for the bus traveling from Valdsosta to Macon, Georgia for a wrestling competition, in which Branden Bell had been a competitor.  In King's announcement, he alleged that Branden was still at the school during the time Kendrick crawled into a gym mat and became stuck, ultimately dying from positional asphyxiation.   As we revealed in a previous blog, the document King held up during his press conference was not a "travel log", it was a bus requisition log that simply recorded a wrestling coach had reserved a school bus for that day - the time was a "secure by" time and was otherwise irrelevant to what time the bus would actually be picked up from the bus barn and depart Lowndes High School.

Among documents and other proof that the bus left that day at least 45 minutes prior to Johnson entering the gym, were witness statements (including statements from the African American bus driver), and phone records that showed Bell and his fellow wrestlers had already boarded their bus and were well on their way to Macon at the time Johnson died.

See a complete list of what this investigation found in today's Valdosta Times article by Adam Floyd. 

I'd like to make a correction to the time I listed HERE - 10:00 am, as the time the bus left the school, I went by what I was told as an "approximate time" by sources. The actual time was closer to noon.

Kendrick Johnson’s body was found upside down in a stored gym mat at the Lowndes High School gym in January 2013. A state autopsy ruled the 17-year-old’s death was accidental. The Johnson family insists their son died of foul play and they say they will not rest until an indictment of someone is handed down.  After public pressure, the case was turned over to US Attorney Michael Moore, where it has been "under review" now for over a year.

Recently Kendrick's parents, Jackie and Kenneth Johnson, started yet another gofundme asking for $10,000 in donations.  Neither Johnson has worked in the two years since their son's death.  Jackie Johnson was asked by the breaking news outlet, The Trial File (@thetrialfile), last week if  Attorney Benjamin Crump was still on the team of lawyers representing the Johnson family -- as of this writing, Mrs. Johnson has not answered the inquiry.

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