Parents of Valdosta teen found dead in school gym request coroner’s inquest

The parents of Kendrick Johnson, the Valdosta teen found dead inside a rolled-up mat in his high school’s gymnasium, have petitioned a judge to order a coroner’s inquest into his death.

“There are so many questionable circumstances in this case that beg to be examined,” Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.

Kendrick Johnson, a sophomore at Lowndes High School, was last seen alive Jan. 10. His parents don’t accept the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s autopsy that concluded the teen suffocated after getting stuck reaching into an upright mat for a shoe.

A private pathologist hired by the family bolstered their suspicions. Dr. Bill Anderson, in an Aug. 15 report, said Kendrick died from a blow to his face that caused a heart attack.

Crump said he hopes the inquest will force police to re-open the case.

“This is a murder mystery that we are determined to solve,” said the attorney, who previously represented the parents of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen shot dead by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

The panel likely would ask to review a surveillance video taken inside the Lowndes High School gym the day Kendrick died. The Johnsons want that video made public, but police contend it does not shed any new light on the cause of death.

“Their findings have to be made public,” Crump said. “This is the only way we can get that video.”

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