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Kendrick Johnson Update: Judge orders release of school video in Ga. teen's gym mat death

Kendrick Johnson in an undated photo. CBS Atlanta

Kendrick Johnson in an undated photo
CBS Atlanta
(CBS/AP) SAVANNAH, Ga. - A south Georgia judge has ordered authorities to release all surveillance video that investigators reviewed in the death of Kendrick Johnson, a Valdosta, Ga. teen who was found dead inside a rolled-up wrestling mat in his high school gym.

The 17-year-old Johnson was found dead Jan. 11. Lowndes County sheriff's investigators concluded that he died in a freak accident, falling headfirst into an upright mat and becoming trapped. But Johnson's family believes he was killed and has been pressuring authorities into taking a second look at the case.

Johnson's father said the ruling Wednesday in Lowndes County Superior Court brings his family "one step closer to the truth."Johnson's family is being represented by Benjamin Crump,the high-profile attorney who represented Trayvon Martin's family.

Sheriff Chris Prine had previously released surveillance footage of Johnson entering the gym, but withheld other footage. The sheriff's attorney, Jim Elliott, says Prine was trying to protect the privacy of minor students shown in the footage.

Elliott says it's his understanding that the video does not show Johnson's death or the events leading to it.

A judge agreed in May to exhume Johnson's body, and the teen's parents hired a private pathologist to provide a second opinion.

The pathologist discoveredJohnson's organs were missingand newspaper had been used to fill the body cavity.

Crump has said the discovery raises questions about why Johnson's organs went missing and couldn't be examined in the follow-up autopsy the family requested.

The pathologist also concluded the teenager died from blunt force trauma near his carotid artery and that the fatal blow appeared to be non-accidental.

Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson said he reviewed the second autopsy report on Johnson, but found it vague and lacking the specifics of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations's findings. The GBI has reportedly stood by its initial findings.

Complete coverage of Kendrick Johnson on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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