South Georgia sheriff reopens Kendrick Johnson case

The mother of a Valdosta teenager who died eight years ago said the sheriff's decision to reopen the case is just a first step.

Jackie Johnson said she wants justice for her son, Kendrick, who was 17 when his lifeless body was found in a gym mat at Lowndes County High School back in 2013.

"Nobody really cares. Nobody wants Kendrick to get justice. It's just like shut this family up, sending them on their way, but what they didn't realize is the Johnson family is not going anywhere," a passionate Jackie Johnson remarked.

Lowndes County High School (FOX 5)

In 2013, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation ruled Johnson's death an accident. Three years later, federal officials closed the case amid lots of community concern and controversy. Leaving the family almost hopeless.

"Eight long years. The crying, the tears, the backlash. Being talked about, ridiculed. It has not been easy," Mrs. Johnson revealed.

Finally, four days ago, Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk, who was not in office when Johnson died, reopened the case.

He plans to evaluate new evidence, examine 17 boxes of previously sealed evidence, and follow the truth.

Reporter: "The state chief medical examiner says this death was an accident. Could he be wrong?"

Sheriff: "Anybody can be wrong. I don't have a predisposed opinion. I have seen people be wrong before."

Community activist Marcus Coleman has followed this case the entire eight years, to Macon, Ohio, and through two emotional exhumations.

"It has been our position that Kendrick was struck with an object that caused severe hemorrhaging. From there until now, we feel like this has been a cover-up at a very high level. We are cautiously optimistic now," Coleman advised.

The sheriff said it will take at least six months to re-examine all the evidence.

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