The parents of a Georgia teen found dead wrapped inside a wrestling mat still have to pay nearly $300,000 in legal fees after a judge dismissed their appeal to an order requiring they shell out thousands to those they claim killed and covered up their son’s death.
Lowndes County Superior Court Senior Judge Richard Porter ruled that Kenneth and Jackie Johnson will still be required to cover the attorney fees as they failed to respond to the recently filed dismissal.
“As of this date, March 21, 2018, there has been no response by Plaintiffs to the motion to dismiss and no transcript filed in any of those cases,” reads a note Porter scrawled at the bottom of the court documents.
The body of their 17-year-old son, Kendrick Johnson, was found wrapped inside a rolled up wrestling mat at Lowndes High School on Jan. 11, 2013.
“I don’t care where I go nor what I do I can not stop thinking about my baby Kendrick Johnson,” Jackie Johnson wrote in a Facebook post Saturday.
“IT’S NOT OKAY ALL OUR KIDS ARE DEAD WITH NO JUSTICE.”
The family in 2015 filed a wrongful death lawsuit — which was withdrawn and then filed again the next year — claiming brothers Brian and Branden Bell killed Kendrick. The Johnsons also accused FBI agents, the former Sheriff in Lowndes County as well as the superintendent of covering up the murder.
A preliminary investigation suggested the death was accidental, but the teen’s parents still maintained their son was actually murdered. They hired a private pathologist to conduct a second autopsy, which concluded Kendrick died from blunt force trauma.
The findings were enough to spark a federal probe, led by the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. But in June 2016 , the United States Department of Justice announced it would not file criminal charges related to Kendrick’s death.
“After extensive investigation into this tragic event, federal investigators determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone or a group of people willfully violated Kendrick Johnson’s civil rights or committed any other prosecutable federal crime,” the DOJ said in a statement at the time.
The Johnsons were later sued for $1 million in defamation damages and $850,000 in legal fees. A judge in August ordered them to pay $292,000 in legal fees to the dozens of people they accused in the cover-up.