Seven defendants sued by the parents of Kendrick Johnson — a Georgia teen who was reportedly found dead in a gym mat in 2013 — recently asked the court to dismiss them from the ongoing federal lawsuit.
WALB reported that on Monday, motions to dismiss were filed by Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine, Lowndes County police Captain Stryde Jones, former Lowndes High School students Brian Bell and Branden Bell, and the boys’ father, ex-FBI agent Richard Bell. Days earlier, on Thursday, lawyers for Lowndes County School Superintendent Wesley Taylor and the county school district also asked the Middle District of Georgia to drop them from the case.
Kendrick Johnson was found dead in a gym mat at Lowndes High School in January 2013. The late teen’s parents, Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson, filed the federal lawsuit against 12 defendants in January, alleging their son was a victim of foul play. WALB noted that the Johnsons have filed several lawsuits in recent years, but so far unsuccessfully.
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Officials have maintained that Kendrick Johnson died from “positional asphyxia” as a result of becoming trapped in a rolled-up gym mat. Jacquelyn and Kenneth Johnson have repeatedly accused officials of partaking in a mass coverup that involves the FBI, local police, and the school district.
The family believes Kendrick Johnson was murdered by classmates Brian and Branden Bell, who are the sons of a former FBI agent. However, surveillance footage appears to show the Bells at a different location when the teen died in the gymnasium.
Rejecting officials’ findings, Kendrick Johnson’s parents had two independent autopsies completed in October 2013 and November 2018. Both independent reports stated the teen died of “non-accidental blunt force trauma.”
After Kendrick Johnson’s body was exhumed for the first independent autopsy in 2013, the private pathologist reportedly discovered that every organ from the teen’s pelvis to skull was gone. Further, his body and skull were allegedly stuffed with newspaper.
In an affidavit Kendrick Johnson’s parents gave to WALB in 2018, a witness claimed an acquaintance revealed who killed the high schooler.
The report stated that the culprit was experiencing “roid rage” when they struck Johnson in the neck with a 45-pound dumbbell. Someone who witnessed the murder was told to keep quiet or they “would pay for it,” according to the affidavit.
The witness alleged they were told that Johnson’s organs were removed and replaced with newspaper to conceal his actual cause of death. The witness also claimed that multiple people conspired to have an hour-and-a-half of the high school surveillance video deleted or corrupted.
The witness’ name, in addition to the person who allegedly attacked Johnson, were redacted in the news station’s copy of the affidavit.
In a letter to the Johnsons’ attorney, funeral director Antonio Harrington said the 17-year-old’s organs “were destroyed through natural process” due to the position of his body when he died. Harrington also claimed the funeral home never had Johnson’s organs, saying they were “discarded by the prosecutor before the body was sent back to Valdosta,” CNN reported.
All seven defendants who asked to be dropped from the ongoing lawsuit stated the federal court lacks jurisdiction because the Johnsons failed to pay court costs for another suit filed in state court. The defendants claimed that under Georgia law, the Johnsons are barred from filing new lawsuits until they pay off the previous court costs.
The defendants have also asserted that the statute of limitations had run out and they weren’t notified of the lawsuit in a timely manner, according to WALB.
Last month, Kenneth Johnson told the news station that there are “several things in motion” regarding his son’s case. However, he declined to disclose what those developments entail.
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[Featured image: Kendrick Johnson/Facebook, Family photo]