Updated Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 5:03 p.m. ET:
Thursday afternoon, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Michael Moore announced that he will lead a federal investigation in to Kendrick Johnson‘s death. Moore’s announcement comes just a day after a judge ruled that video showing Johnson walking through the Lowndes County High School halls before entering a gym should be handed over to his parents and their legal team.
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Although Moore cautioned that as a federal prosecutor he is limited to certain legal bounds, it was agreed that the evidence that has recently come forth is sufficient grounds to warrant a deeper look into the case, “I will follow the facts wherever they lead. My objective is to discover the truth,” said Moore.
In addition, Wednesday’s ruling on releasing the video surveillance was another small but significant step toward justice for Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson. The family, their legal team, the sheriff’s office, and officials from the Lowndes County school district all gathered in a meeting over the clip. The request for the release of the video was heard by Southern Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Harry Jay Altman who ruled in favor of the Johnsons yesterday morning.
The family’s attorney, Chevene King, told CNN after the hearing,”Essentially, it shifts the focus from what the sheriff had offered to other theories that were not explored and that have, I think, begun to slowly creep to the surface.”
On the video, Kendrick can be seen walking down a hallway then turning in to the school’s gym. Once Kendrick enters the gym and veers right, Kendrick is not seen on the surveillance video again. The video ends with students leaving the school.
Watch video of Kendrick Johnson just moments before his death in the video below:
Although the video may not help officials know exactly how Johnson died, the family hopes that the video will help reclassify the video from an accidental death to a murder investigation. On Monday, a judge will rule on the matter.
The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office says that the case is closed on their end as they found no evidence of foul play that would suggest Johnson was murdered. “Based on the information, that we know now, the autopsy findings, our investigative findings, our case is closed,” said Lt. Stryde Jones to NBC News earlier this week.
But the Sheriff’s Office autopsy would be contradicted by a second autopsy that indicated Kendrick was murdered by blunt force trauma. Soon after, Kendrick’s body would be exhumed, and Johnson’s parents would discover that Kendrick’s vital organs were missing and his body was stuffed with old newspapers. These details add more significant wrinkles to the case.
“The manner and cause of death is still accidental, with this preposterous theory that he climbed into the wrestling mat, and as long as that’s the cause of death, then the sheriff had to close his investigation and say he’s not doing anything else,” said Crump, who is representing Johnson’s family. “If [after the inquest] they change the manner of death to homicide, [the Sheriff] has to … give a full and proper investigation to this murder mystery.”
CNN says they’ve obtained video and over 700 photographs from the scene where Johnson died, employing the opinion of a former FBI agent who was critical of how local authorities have handled the case and other curious matters.
Hear more about what has been released to Johnson’s attorneys and family, in the audio clip below.
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