Friday, March 21, 2014
Based on documents provided to CNN on Monday pursuant to a FOIA request, Victor Blackwell of CNN has discovered that state investigators in the Kendrick Johnson case received an email from an anonymous person “claiming an ex-schoolmate reportedly confessed to killing Kendrick Johnson.”
The anonymous person did not claim to have been present when the ex-schoolmate made the confession. Instead, the anonymous person claimed to have heard about the confession from someone else. The anonymous person identified four students in the email.
The email is dated January 27, 2013 which is 16 days after Kendrick Johnson’s body was discovered in the rolled-up gym mat.
Pursuant to the FOIA request, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office provided CNN with a copy of an incident report dated January 28th in which investigators contacted two of the four students and interviewed them. Both admitted knowing Kendrick but denied being involved in his death.
Apparently, the investigators did not contact the other two students.
A prosecutor also attempted to determine the identity of the anonymous person who sent the email by contacting Mediacom, the internet service provider the anonymous person used to contact the sheriff’s office. In the ordinary course of business, Mediacom would have insisted on receiving a subpoena before it would identify the anonymous person.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Bradfield Shealy issued the subpoena to Mediacom Communications Corporation on January 28. The New York-based cable, phone and Internet provider was ordered to provide the Lowndes County grand jury with subscriber information associated with the e-mail sent through the Lowndes County sheriff’s office’s website or submit the documents to the district attorney’s office or Lt. Jones before February 26.
According to a Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office incident report, the subpoena was faxed to Mediacom on February 7. The company intends to comply with the order. However, a Mediacom employee told CNN by phone Wednesday that Mediacom has not received the subpoena.
In other words, someone dropped the ball. Either the ADA did not fax the subpoena to the correct number or the custodian of records at Mediacom forgot to obtain and send the requested information. This sort of thing happens occasionally. The ADA should have followed up on his request when he did not receive the information he requested. If he had, Mediacom probably would have sent the information.
If Mediacom had refused, the ADA could have applied to the court for an order compelling Mediacom to provide the requested information. That did not happen.
Therefore, we have yet another example of a failure to thoroughly investigate this case.
Apparently, a decision was made to close the investigation before investigators identified the anonymous source of the email and interviewed the other two students identified by the anonymous source.
This information provides additional evidence that the investigation by state authorities was incomplete.
EDIT: The anonymous email was sent January 27, 2014 (not 2013).