Prosecutor reviewing facts in Ga. gym mat death

U.S. Attorney announces formal review of Valdosta teen’s death

The U.S. Attorney’s office announced Thursday they will conduct a formal review of the case of a Valdosta teen found dead inside a rolled up wrestling mat.

“My goal, and my oath, requires me to follow the facts,” said Michael Moore, the U.S. attorney for Georgia’s Middle District. “Several questions must be answered or confirmed.”

The announcement was another major victory for the parents of Kendrick Johnson, who have never believed their son’s death was an acccident, as concluded by the Lowndes County sheriff’s office. On Wednesday, a Lowndes County judge ordered the release of video surveillance footage from inside the gym where the 17-year-old was found dead earlier this year.

An autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation concluded the teen suffocated after getting stuck reaching into an upright mat for a shoe, although a private pathologist hired by the family said Johnson died from a blow to his face that caused a heart attack.

Moore cautioned Thursday that federal jurisdiction is limited.

“I will follow the facts wherever they lead,” he said.

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