Pt. 2

Kendrick Johnson

Page 2 of 2

right posterior medial wrist there is a 1/8 x 1/8 inch superficial abrasion.  On the left distal 4th finger, involving the dorsal skin just proximal to the cuticle, there are two superficial abrasions measuring 1/8 x  <1/8 inch and 3/16 x <1/8 inch.

"On the left distal 4th finger, involving the forsal skin overlying the distal interphalangeal joint there is a 5/16 inch superficial tear with no associated hemorrhage."

Those injuries to Kendrick's fingers and wrist are consistent with defensive wounds.  If he was beaten, and more than a few perpetrators held him down while doing it, Kendrick would have had little opportunity for further resistance, and further injuries. 

What is not contained in the autopsy report is even more telling.  There's no mention of  anything unusual happening with Kendrick's heart, brain, skin or lungs.  The problem is, if death does result from positional asphyxiation, those organs should show some signs of oxygen deprivation.

Buried in Dr. Gaffney-Kraft's report is this statement:

"Accompanying the body, lying on and across the upper chest, is a set of white with black wire earphones/buds; one of the attaching wires is broken."

Like most teens, Kendrick liked to listen to music.  He used a non-working cell phone as an MP3 player.  Why, then, is that cell phone missing?  It didn't just disappear. Who took it and why?  Most importantly, could the torn wire be due to a death struggle?  If so, there might be a perpetrator's DNA on it.  There is no record the ear buds were tested for same.

The autopsy report is dated May 2, 2013.  Why did it take three and a half months to release it?  What is clear is that after the autopsy, the body was released to the Johnsons; Kendrick was buried in Valdosta's Sunset Hill Cemetery. 

Sources in Valdosta have told me of racial tension within the community.  Not overt, but rather below the surface. That begs the question: if it was a White boy who showed up dead like Kendrick, would there still be so many unanswered questions?  Chevene King, Jr., the Albany, Georgia attorney representing Kenneth and Jackie Johnson, is trying to get the answers.

He is the son of Chevene King, Sr. -- also an attorney -- who led the Albany Movement,  a desegregation coalition that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (no relation) considered an integral facet of the civil rights movement.  When his son Chevene King, Jr., filed a petition on April 15, 2013 to exhume Kendrick's body, he was continuing his father's legacy.

On May 1, 2013, the Superior Court of Lowndes County, State of Georgia, granted Mr. King's petition.   The following day, May 2 – the same day the state released the auotpsy report -- Julie P. Gardner,  Assistant Deputy Director (Medical Examiner's Office) of the GBI's Division of Forensic Science, sent an email to Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson:

"The official case and manner of death for the following juvenile decedent Kendrick Johnson is as follow [sic]:


Manner of Death: Accident

How injury occurred: Slipped and fell upside-down while reading into the central-hole of a vertically stored rolled-up gym mat and became trapped," Ms. Gardner writes.

Reading what? Wouldn't a book have been recovered if this scenario were correct?  Further, it contradicts Sheriff Prine's statement that Kendrick was trying to retrieve a shoe that had fallen into the mat when he fell and got trapped. 

Forty-three days later on June 14 before dawn, as  Kenneth and Jackie Johnson, their family, friends and Mr. King observed, the exhumation took place at Sunset Hill Cemetery.  The vault containing Kendrick's body was loaded onto a truck and then transported to Orlando, Florida, for a second, private autopsy. The results are due shortly.

Fred Rosen is a reporter and the author of the true crime classic Lobster Boy, now available as an ebook at Amazon Kindle