On Thursday, October 10, the parents of Kendrick Johnson along with their legal team of Albany's Chevene King and Tallahassee's Ben Crump held a morning press conference on the steps of the Lowndes County Judicial Complex located at 327 North Ashley Street in downtown Valdosta.
One day earlier, the Lowndes County High School student's parents appeared on a national news program that showed video of the January 11, 2013 death scene which involved their son Kendrick who would have been 18 years old today.
Eight months after Kendrick Johnson was found inside one of twenty-one wrestling mats at the Old Gymnasium, information and physical evidence from the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office along with the Lowndes County Board of Education have been difficult to come by.
The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office --led by Chris Prine-- considers the Kendrick Johnson case closed along with the Lowndes County School District-- led by Superintendent Wes Taylor.
Prine had recently refused to answer questions about the 'closed case' to CNN's Victor Blackwell when the reporter personally visited the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office.
Taylor also refused to answer any questions from Mr. Blackwell.
Wes Taylor was appointed Superintendent of the Lowndes County School System by the Lowndes County School Board on July 1, 2012, after being sworn in on June 11, 2012.
Taylor replaced former Lowndes Superintendent Steve Smith, who was recently sworn in as the Superintendent of the Bibb County Schools here in Macon.
WCTV-TV reported that Chevene King says that the surveillance videotape can serve as an eyewitness, and he wants people to petition the Lowndes Sheriff's Board of Education to release any and all surveillance footage.
Ben Crump reiterated the collective belief of the family and legal team that Kendrick Johnson was murdered and the crime was covered up to protect the assailants.
According to King, there are at least four campus surveillance cameras that could show Johnson in the Old Gymnasium and believe those tapes have been deliberately withheld.
The public hasn't heard much from Lowndes County High School's administrators and its Board of Education in regard to about what happened on January 10 and January 11, 2013 and events that happened after Kendrick Johnson's body was found by students in the Old Gymnasium during a second block 'Athletic Training' class taught by Philip Pieplow.
However, did pressure to keep that reputation of Lowndes High School intact have an impact on decisions made by the Lowndes principal and Superintendent on January 11, 2013?
Lowndes Sheriff Chris Prine and the Sheriff's Office made a conscious effort not to contact the coroner immediately.
Was the principal and superintendent aware of this on January 11?
On May 4, the Valdosta Daily Times wrote the following:
...."By law, someone from the sheriff’s office should have contacted Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson when they learned of Johnson’s body so that a declaration of death could be made, and Prine acknowledged that they should have done so. However, fearing a leak to the media and understanding that there was little the coroner could do until investigators secured all of the evidence and reached Johnson’s body, Prine waited to call Watson...."
Was both the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office and the Lowndes County High School more concerned about 'media leaks' than following the state law in the Kendrick Johnson case?
On May 8, the National Action Network (NAN) made a formal request for all public records that pertain to the Kendrick Johnson investigation be released by invoking the Georgia Open Records Act.
On May 10, Warren Turner, a lawyer representing Lowndes Co. Schools said the school system is unable to release various records--including videotapes-- due to confidentiality of minors.
As of today, who is in possession of the tapes- the Lowndes Sheriff's Office or the Lowndes County School Board?