A federal prosecutor is seeking more surveillance videos from a gymnasium where a south Georgia teen was found dead inside a rolled-up exercise mat in a case his relatives contend was no accident.
The Valdosta Daily Times reported Saturday that U.S. Attorney Michael Moore issued a subpoena for computer hard drives containing the original surveillance videos of the old gym at Lowndes High School in Valdosta.
WCTV reported a grand jury subpoena was issued Friday, and the FBI will get the videos.
Moore's office is investigating the death of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson, whose family does not accept conclusions of local and state investigators who say the teen died accidentally after being trapped upside down in a mat in January.
Relatives claim the youth was the victim of foul play, and they have questioned the authenticity of surveillance videos released last month.
Moore has been reviewing evidence collected at the time of Johnson's death, including copies of videos from cameras showing the youth entering the old gym at mid-day on Jan. 10 and then jogging briefly inside the gym afterward. Authorities said there was no other video of him until 24 hours later, when his body was carried out of the gym in a body bag.
The youth's family raised questions about gaps and a lack of time stamps in the copied videos.
The Johnson family had sought access to the hard drives through an open records request, but the school system said it could not release them without a judge's order because they contained identifying information of students protected by privacy laws.
The legal question was pending in court when Moore issued the grand jury subpoena for the hard drives.
Authorities have said they suspect Johnson became trapped trying to retrieve a shoe that fell into the center of the large, rolled mat. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner concluded Johnson he died from positional asphyxia, meaning his body got stuck in a position in which he couldn't breathe.
Johnson's family had his body exhumed so they could get another opinion from a private pathologist. In an August report, Dr. William R. Anderson said he detected hemorrhaging on the right side of Johnson's neck and concluded the teenager died from blunt force trauma near his carotid artery.
The fatal blow did not appear to be an accident, Anderson concluded.