Kendrick Johnson Hearing Could Prove Costly

The parents of a 17-year-old Valdosta County teen who was found dead in a rolled up gym mat at his high school could owe $1 million.

Last week, a judge ordered Kenneth and Jackie Johnson, parents of Kendrick Johnson, to pay the legal fees of defendants Brian and Branden Bell, whom they allege killed their son in Jan. 2013. The two brothers, along with others, were named in a wrongful death lawsuit the family withdrew in March.

Kendrick’s body was found on Jan. 11, 2013 in the old Lowndes High School gymnasium. Local and state investigators concluded the teen died of accidental asphyxiation, but his family doesn’t believe the results of the investigation.

Two months ago, an investigation by the Justice Department was closed, announcing it was unable to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” Kendrick met foul play.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the hearing is expected to continue through the week, and it could cost the Johnsons $900,000 if Lowndes Superior Court Judge Richard Porter orders them to pay the full amount requested by the defendants named in the wrongful death suit.

Lawyers representing the Bell brothers argued the suit was frivolous and without merit. Kenneth Johnson admitted they had no evidence the Bells killed his son, according to court documents.

“We will not let them silence us about our son’s murder,” Jackie Johnson told talk show host Roland Martin on Monday. “I know my son wouldn’t have tried to crawl into the mat.”

Last week, the Johnsons filed a new lawsuit in U.S. District Court that implicates nearly 40 local and state officials in a conspiracy to “illegally cover up the true cause of death.”