Federal investigation under way into Valdosta gym mat death case - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Federal investigation under way into Valdosta gym mat death case

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MACON, GA (CBS46) -

Michael Moore, the U.S. Attorney for Middle Georgia walked into a packed room Thursday and delivered the words the family of Kendrick Johnson have been waiting for.

"I am of the opinion that a sufficient basis exists for my office to conduct a formal review of the facts and the investigation surrounding the death of Kendrick Johnson," said Moore.

The announcement came after months of controversy surrounding Johnson's death. The Lowndes County High School student was found rolled up in a gym mat at the school in January. The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office ruled the death an accident, after a Georgia Bureau of Investigation autopsy determined Johnson suffocated inside the mat, which was sitting upright. But Johnson's family says a second investigation and autopsy performed by a private pathologist determined the 17 year-old died from blunt force trauma to the right side of his neck. After reviewing the evidence from both investigations, Moore says there are several questions that need to be answered.

"What was the cause of Mr. Johnson's death? Second, was Mr. Johnson's death the result of a crime and third, if Mr. Johnson's death was the result of a crime, who committed that crime and fourth, if a crime was committed who has the jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute those responsible." Moore said.

Moore did not take questions after the news conference. It is not clear if the federal investigation will include looking into what happened to Johnson's organs. When his body was exhumed for a second autopsy, it was discovered his organs were missing and replaced by newspaper.

On Wednesday a southern Georgia judge ordered authorities to release all surveillance video that investigators reviewed.

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