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‘We’re starting fresh’: 17 new boxes of documents to be unsealed as Kendrick Johnson case revisited

Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 5:43 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk says when he was re-elected in 2016, revisiting the Kendrick Johnson case was one of his top priorities.

But they key to that, he says, was getting the documents from the FBI and Department of Justice, which have been sealed.

Now, those documents are here and the case is back open.

It’s been eight years and two months since Johnson was found dead at Lowndes County High School. Since, his family never stopped their fight for answers but now, some may have been answered.

“We’re starting fresh, so it’s like a brand new investigation, no predisposed opinions, can’t have that,” Sheriff Paulk said. “We’ll be looking at all the read material and obviously we’ll be doing some more interviews.”

The case has been reopened by the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office after receiving 17 boxes of federal documents.

Marcus Coleman, founder of save ourselves and a spokesperson for the Johnson’s, says having the case return to the local level means the possibility of new charges.

“We’re not singing and dancing by no means, but there’s only positivity right now,” he said. “There could only be a charge based on the violation of Kendrick’s civil rights. There’s no murder federally. There’s murder now that it’s under Lowndes County.”

The sheriff’s office requested these documents from the Middle Georgia District Attorney in April of 2019 but were denied.

Since then, the case moved to the District Attorney’s Office of Northern Ohio.

They approved the family’s request late last year.

“I think they found somebody that was sympathetic to the cause, and understood what we were trying to do,” Sheriff Paulk said.

Paulk says while they may not find anything new, this is the first time every piece of information will be reviewed together.

Coleman tells WCTV the Johnson’s are cautiously optimistic but these are all positive developments.

Sheriff Paulk says every piece of those 17 boxes will be reviewed, but that is going to take some time.

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