On Monday, September 30, the Macon Examiner has learned and confirmed that Benjamin Lloyd Crump, a Tallahassee, Florida based attorney who works for the law firm Parks & Crump, LLC — known for his association with the Trayvon Martin case– has joined with South Georgia’s C.B. King as part of the legal team representing the family of Kendrick Johnson.
Shortly after Labor Day, results from a second autopsy by a licensed, experienced forensic pathologist from Florida confirmed the findings of EMT Nick Tomlinson (formerly of the South Georgia Medical Center) who had examined Kendrick Johnson on the scene on January 11.
According to the report, Tomlinson had witnessed bruising on the 17 year-old’s body and came to a conclusion that the Old Gymnasium located on the Lowndes County High School campus should be considered a crime scene.
The second autopsy report describes Johnson’s injuries as “apparent non-accidental, blunt force trauma”.
The independent pathologist talked to CNN and said the following: “I’ve never had a case that I can recall where the prosecution actually was told that this may well be a homicide the prosecution being the state the police and so forth and then didn’t bother prosecuting it. It’s mystifying.”
Both Tomlinson’s report and the independent second autopsy directly contradict the GBI autopsy report which was released on May 4 which concluded positional asphyxia and reported no bruising at all anywhere on his body.
Lowndes County coroner Bill Watson was not notified of Johnson’s death until several hours later– after school was dismissed.
By Georgia law, local police are required to call the county coroner. However, this state law was broken. Additionally, the involvement of the GBI-Thomasville’s office which doesn’t have a medical examiner, is still a mystery and deserves further scrutiny.
Typically, the local district attorney or the local sheriff is usually charged with the duty to make a formal written request for the GBI to initiate an investigation.
In this particular case, things were done differently. J. David Miller, the District Attorney of the Southern District did not call the GBI nor did the Lowndes Co. Sheriff Chris Prine. Or even Valdosta acting police chief at the time, Brian Childress.
A captain from the Lowndes Co. sheriff’s office, Wanda Edwards, was the person who called the GBI-Thomasville office.
So why did protocol and transparency take a back seat in the Kendrick Johnson case?
Representatives from the GBI-Thomasville office were on the scene within two hours of the 17 year-old Lowndes student being found (before 12 noon), but the elected coroner, Bill Watson, was still absent from a death scene.
Local media outlets the Valdosta Daily Times and all Valdosta/Tallahassee-based television stations (including Albany’s WALB-TV) never broadcast or put in print any quotes from the elected coroner Bill Watson until three months later in mid-April.
The GBI findings drew the approval of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department led by Chris Prine that confirmed that the death was an accident.
Johnson’s parents– Ken and Jacqueline– had never bought into the theory of the Lowndes Co. Sheriff’s Office that their son was reaching for a shoe inside rolled up gym mats which could hav easily been lifted up.
Johnson’s parents believe Kendrick– otherwise known as KJ– was targeted, pursued and assaulted which led to his death on Thursday, January 10 and the people responsible attempted to conceal the crime.
The parents had wrote the following on their Facebook page on September 28:
“…Did KJ have the right to go to Lowndes High School and be safe? KJ should have been safe at school and came home to his family..”
In early September, Johnson’s parents told South Georgia and North Florida’s television station, WCTV-TV, the following:
“We already knew. Deep down inside we knew how Kendrick was. We knew he was murdered” says Jacquelyn Johnson, Kendrick Johnson’s mother.
Kenneth Johnson, Kendrick Johnson’s father: “I was happy with the results, the results we received– I was very happy because it contradicts everything the first autopsy said.”
On May 24, a confirmation had been made via a report from CNN’s Victor Blackwell that the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia– Michael Moore– is in the process of conducting a ” very deliberate review” of the Kendrick Johnson case based in Valdosta.
The results of this federal review will determine if the Department of Justice will launch a full federal investigation for the mysterious death of the 17 year-old Lowndes High School student.