Chevene King, Jr., the attorney representing Kendrick Johnson's family, publicly revealed on an Atlanta radio show that the 17-year-old had a fight with another student sometime prior to his death.
Could that fight have led to his murder? It all comes down to the shoes.
According to Lowndes County, Georgia Sheriff Chris Prine, Kendrick Johnson died while reaching into an upright gym mat in the old gym at Lowndes County High School on Jan. 10, 2013. Trying to retrive a sneaker that had fallen in, instead he fell in, couldn't get out and smothered to death from positional asphyxiation.
The GBI autopsy, released May 2, backed him up. That is until Dr. William Anderson performed a second autopsy in June, which showed he died from one terrific blow to his neck that caused his heart to stop. As for the GBI's assertion that KJ died from positional asphyxia, their report contradicted their conclusion. Anderson points out that if KJ died from positional asphyxia, his lungs would have filled with fluid. But the report stated, "Kendrick's lungs only weighed, 200 or 240 grams. If Kendrick died from positional asphyxia, how do we explain the absence of pulmonary adema?" Anderson wonders.
If, as the sheriff says, KJ was reaching into the mat to get a pair of shoes that he previously left there, why then were his other shoes off when his body was recovered? Was he walking around school all morning and into the early afternoon barefoot?!
"Someone removed them, probably to set the stage for the shoe retrieval story," says Beau Webster, the private investigator who works for the Johnson family and has previously identified the five suspects in his murder. While Webster will not speak publicly about their identity until they are charged, Chevene King, Jr. already has.
King called into a local Atlanta radio show on October 11, 2013 and revealed what Webster had discovered in the course of his investigation: Johnson had had a fight with another student prior to his death. And that's where the myth of the missing shoes began to gain traction.
On January 17, 2013, exactly one week after Johnson was murdered, Lowndes County sheriff's detectives Ssgt Jack Winningham and Sgt. Michael Adams were interviewing students at Lowndes High School. According to their report, "It was brought to Winningham's attention that Johnson had been in an altercation on a school bus during a football game."
The two officers were led to senior Clark Martin, who happens to be White.* "Winningham requested Sgt. Adams call the father of Clark and request an interview."
When Adams did, the father, Sam Martin, referred him to his attorney, who would not permit any interviews at that time. However, two weeks later on January 31, Det. John Marion followed up and contacted one of Martin's parents and was able to go to their house and speak to the teen.
"Clark Martin stated that he was in the twelfth grade and had second block gym. Clark stated he did not know Kendrick Johnson, and did not speak with him. Clark also stated that during his second block gym on Jan. 10, 2013, he was in the weight room and not the old gym," it says in the police report.
Chris Martin, his younger brother, had been present during the interview and listening. He then volunteered the following.
"He [Chris] stated that he was in the tenth grade and had previously been in third block gym with Kendrick Johnson last semester." Following protocol, Marion immediately requested of his parent that he be allowed to talk with him. Permission was granted.
"Chris Martin stated he observed Kendrick Johnson and other students, 'throwing shoes over the mats and then go retrieve them the next day to play basketball. Chris stated this was common and that other students did this as well," the report continues.
Marion then asked Chris Martin to provide a written statement, "and when completed give it to Sergeant Adams at the high school." That concluded the interview. But the myth of the missing shoes then went viral.
On March 21, Lt. Stryde Jones of the Lowndes County Sheriff's Department contacted the Martin family attorney, "and inquired about the status of his clients, Clark and Chris Martin, providing a statement in either verbal or written form."
There were to be no statements forthcoming.
After consulting with father Sam Martin, their attorney "advised them not to make a statement and therefore the pair would not be meeting with investigators." Why wouldn't "the pair" give police a statement? In the entire narrative of the case, they were the only students who would not. Did they have something to hide or were they just being cautious?