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Autopsy: Georgia teen's death not an accident

Sept. 4, 2013 at 5:26 PM   |   Comments

VALDOSTA, Ga., Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Questions are being raised about the death of a Georgia teen whose body was found rolled up inside a gym wresting mat earlier this year, family members say.

A new autopsy, conducted at the request of the family says 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson died of blunt force trauma not asphyxiation on Jan. 11 at at Lowndes County High School gym in Valdosta, Ga., CNN reported Wednesday.

The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office had ruled the death an accident based on autopsy results by the Valdosta-Lowndes County Regional Crime Laboratory, which found the 17-year-old's cause of death "situational asphyxiation."

Johnson's family and the community were unsatisfied with the autopsy, and his parents petitioned a judge to have their son's remains exhumed to conduct a second autopsy at the family's expense. The pathologist who conducted that autopsy noted "unexplained, apparent non-accidental blunt force trauma" to the teen's neck and jaw, CNN said.

Those findings are in keeping with the EMT report from the scene, which also noted bruising on that part of Johnson's body.

The county pathologist's report said there was no apparent blunt force trauma found on Johnson's body.

The family has appealed the cause of death finding to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations. U.S. Attorney Michael Moore told CNN his office has been "working on the case for a while" but hasn't opened a formal investigation yet into whether Johnson's death should be reclassified a homicide.

"There are some members of the community that question the result," Moore said. "I want to make sure members of the community and the family and everyone involved has confidence in my work and my decision."

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