Sheriff Paulk said he reviewed 17 boxes of evidence provided by prosecutors and investigators, including grand jury testimony. The evidence “doesn’t present anything to support any criminal act by anyone that could have resulted in Kendrick Johnson’s death,” Sheriff Paulk’s report said.
Kendrick’s father, Kenneth Johnson, says he still believes someone killed his son, a popular Lowndes High athlete and the youngest of five children.
Mr. Johnson, 53, said that a medical examiner hired by the family, William R. Anderson, found the cause of death to be a blunt force trauma to the right side of the boy’s neck, near the jaw. .
Mr Johnson said: “Truth is truth. “You can’t cause an accident because of a murder.”
Anderson’s autopsy, conducted five months after Kendrick’s death, contradicted the conclusions of the medical examiner at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, who in 2013 issued an autopsy report. The autopsy determined the cause of death as “postural suffocation”, suggesting that Kendrick had been trapped upside down in the rolled-up rug and suffocated.
Sheriff Paulk said the conflicting autopsy reports were complicated by the third autopsy conducted by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner’s Office in 2014. That report also ruled. accidental death and asphyxiation but was later revised to state that the cause of death was “unknown. ”
Even after the federal investigation, questions about Kendrick’s death persisted in Valdosta.
In 2016, Sheriff Paulk, who retired a year before Kendrick’s death, decided to run for re-election. He said that along the way, he was repeatedly approached by Black voters who wanted him to reconsider the case.
“I feel that I should look into this,” he said. “Plus, I want to know myself.”
But Sheriff Paulk, 76, said that when he reviewed federal government documents, it appeared prosecutors were determined to charge the two students. He described their investigation as a “witch hunt” and said email correspondence between prosecutors showed they had felt pressured to get results.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/27/us/kendrick-johnson-georgia-investigation.html Georgia teen’s death found in Mat gym was ‘Strange accident,’ sheriff says