The Department of Justice began investigating the death of a Georgia teen over a year ago and now we’re learning more details about the case.
Kendrick Johnson’s dead body was found in a rolled up gym mat at his Georgia high school in 2013. Even though a coroner concluded that the teen suffocated while trying to retrieve his shoe, inconsistencies led the deceased teen’s family to conclude that foul play was involved in the teen’s death.
An independent autopsy report found blunt force trauma and concluded that Johnson’s death was the result of a homicide.
Also, the surveillance video provided by Lowndes High School was suspicious, as it only showed a few seconds of Johnson and was “jumpy, with students intermittently appearing and vanishing, and they bear no obvious timestamps”, CNN reported at the time.
Johnson’s family filed a $100 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit against brothers Branden Bell and Brian Bell–both sons of an FBI agent–over their alleged involvement in Kendrick Johnson’s death.
Now documents obtained by CNN as part of that lawsuit seem to indicate that witness intimidation is alleged in the case as well:
The filing includes the six-page affidavit from Criminal Investigator Nelson Rhone. According to Rhone, allowing attorneys to depose witnesses and collect evidence as part of the discovery process at this juncture would, among other things, “seriously jeopardize the federal investigation” and would “prematurely alert subjects of the federal investigation to evidence against them.”
Rhone also claims that allowing discovery would have a “chilling effect on witnesses who have yet to testify before the grand jury and may result in additional witness tampering.”
So far this is the only new information we have on the investigation.