Civil suit will cost parents of Ga. teen found dead in gym mat
Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson stand next to a banner on their SUV showing their late son, Kendrick Johnson.
(Russ Bynum/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Saturday, August 20, 2016, 1:46 PM
The parents of a Georgia high school football player found dead inside a rolled-up gym mat may have to pay nearly $ 1 million in legal fees for the people they accused of killing their son and covering up his murder.
Kenneth and Jacqueline Johnson dropped a civil lawsuit against their son’s teammate, law enforcement agents and state officials earlier this year. On Thursday, Superior Court Judge Richard Porter granted requests from the defendants to recoup attorney fees from the grief-stricken parents.
The defendants — including a pair of teen brothers whom the Johnsons said killed their son, and 37 others the family accused of covering up the crime — have asked for a whopping $ 850,000. A judge will decide Monday how much the Johnsons have to pay.
Kendrick Johnson, a 17-year-old student at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, was found dead inside a mat propped against a gym wall in January 2013. Investigators concluded the football player’s death was a freak accident — but the teen’s parents insisted he had been killed.
Kendrick Johnson, 17, was found dead inside a rolled up gym mat in 2013.
(Valdosta/Lowndes Regional Crime Labratory via CNN)
The Johnsons blamed their son’s death on one of his football teammates, WXIA reported. The player held a grudge against Kendrick after the pair fought on a bus in 2011, the family claimed.
After stewing for two years, the accused teen enlisted his brother to help kill Kendrick, the Johnsons said.
But investigators maintained Kendrick died when he dove head-first into a mat to retrieve a pair of gym shoes inside. His classmates found him a day later when they noticed his feet sticking out from the center of the rolled-up mat, police said.
Kendrick Johnson’s parents insisted he had been killed by one of his football teammates.
(@tomjones161 via twitter)
An autopsy by a Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner determined Johnson died from “positional asphyxia,” meaning he got stuck upside down and was unable to breathe.
Unsatisfied with the ruling, Johnson’s parents later had his body exhumed and paid a private medical examiner to conduct a second autopsy, which concluded he died from a blow to the neck.
The Johnsons then filed a $ 100 million civil suit against 39 people, including the brothers, their dad and a slew of local and state officials.
An image of Kendrick Johnson, the south Georgia teenager found dead inside a rolled-up wrestling mat in his school, is displayed on a banner, as demonstrators attend a “Who Killed K.J.” rally in 2013.
(David Goldman/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
The family dropped the suit in March.
In June, the Justice Department closed a 2 1/2 year investigation into Johnson’s death that provided no answers.
The DOJ issued a statement saying federal investigators “found insufficient evidence to support federal criminal charges,” but it steered clear of saying whether its findings pointed to an accident or homicide as the cause of Johnson’s death.
With News Wire Services