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Feds will not file charges in bizarre gym mat death of teen

Posted: 10:25 PM, Jun 20, 2016
Updated: 2016-06-21 13:39:02Z
The U.S. Justice Department on Monday ended its investigation of the 2013 death of a high school student, possibly closing the lid on the bizarre case.
 
Kendrick Johnson was found dead in a rolled-up gym mat at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia, in January 2013 – an incident a medical examiner subsequently determined was an accident, claiming that Johnson died of "positional asphyxia.”
 
The examiner’s finding implied the 17-year-old had suffocated as a result of being trapped upside-down in the rolled-up mat, according to CNN .
 
However, the teen’s parents -- Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson – never bought the story.
 
They had his body exhumed and hired an independent pathologist to perform a second autopsy on the body.
 
The second biopsy concluded Johnson’s death was the result of a homicide, with evidence of “blunt force trauma to the right side of Kendrick's neck, near the jaw, and the manner of death was not an accident,” according to the Justice Department.
 
Last year, his parents filed a $100 million civil lawsuit against dozens of local and state officials, claiming officials helped in plotting fake evidence.
 
But federal investigators said Monday that the investigation had concluded, with nearly 100 interviews conducted and many documents – including emails, text messages and surveillance video – analyzed regarding the event.
 
 "The Department of Justice, in particular the lawyers and investigators who have worked tirelessly on this investigation, express their most sincere condolences to Kendrick Johnson's parents, family, and friends," Acting United States Attorney Carole Rendon said, according to CNN. 
 
She added, "We cannot imagine the pain of their loss, or the depths of their sorrow. We regret that we were unable to provide them with more definitive answers about Kendrick's tragic death."
 
The DOJ released a statement explaining the investigation "has been closed without the filing of federal criminal charges." It did not comment any further.