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Kendrick Johnson's parents still have more questions than answers

Unclear surveillance video and a scathing new coroner's report leave Johnson's parents more suspicious as they try to learn how their teen son died.
Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson, whose son Kendrick was found dead in a wrestling mat, appear at a press conference on Thursday, Oct. 31 2013 in Tallahassee, Fla.
Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson, whose son Kendrick was found dead in a wrestling mat, appear at a press conference on Thursday, Oct. 31 2013 in Tallahassee, Fla.

Hundreds of hours of released surveillance video of the high school where teen Kendrick Johnson mysteriously died were released this week, but that video is creating more questions than answers for his parents. 

As they parse through more than 1900 hours of video, the family and their attorneys are "troubled" by a number of issues, including the lack of time-stamps on the video, but they are most worried about the video of the gymnasium where their son was found dead, rolled up inside of a gym mat.

"Out of the 36 cameras--that's 36 angles--all of them are vivid and clear, except the one that is pointed to the wrestling mats, that corner where Kendrick was found dead," Johnson family attorney Benjamin Crump told Rev. Al Sharpton on Friday's PoliticsNation.  "That is the only one that is blurry, that is the only one that is distorted." 

Lt. Stryde Jones of the Valdosta, Ga., sheriff’s office told NBC News that the camera footage is blurry because it seemed to have been damaged by a ball at some point. He also said that the camera did not capture video of Johnson's body going inside the mat because it was a motion activated device and the mat was beyond its range. 

Authorities in Georgia town where Johnson was found dead have always contended that Kendrick Johnson's death was an accident. But his parents have been suspicious from the beginning, incredulous that their athletic son could have died the way authorities claim he did. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation's initial autopsy found that Johnson suffocated inside a gym mat after he fell into it while reaching for his shoe.

The blurry video is not the only development creating new questions for the Johnson family. Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson blasted the initial investigation into the death in his official report, reported on by CNN this week. 

In his report, Watson complains that he was not notified about the death until nearly 4 p.m., more than six hours after it was discovered. 

"The investigative climate was very poor to worse when I arrived on the scene," he wrote in his report. "The body had been noticably [sic] moved. The scene had been compromised and there was no cooperation from law enforcement at the scene."

"I do not approve of the manner this case was handled. Not only was the scene compromised, the body was moved. The integrrety [sic] was breached by opening a sealed body bag, information necessary for my lawful investigation was withheld," he added.

Kenneth Johnson calls Watson's report "real troubling."

"It just goes to show more disrespect to my family, what the sherriff's department have done to us," he said on Friday's PoliticsNation. "They treated Kendrick like he wasn't even human."

An independent autopsy performed after the teen's body was exhumed found that his cause of death was "blunt-force trauma" to the neck.

"Where we found the trauma was in an area that had not previously been dissected or looked at in the first autopsy,” Anderson told NBC News.

Attorney Chevene King described that evidence as "nothing more than another piece to the puzzle," on PoliticsNation, and another sign that the investigation was botched from the start.

"The sheriff's department has described it as being a freak death, a freak accident," King said. "We think of course it can't be any more freak than the investigation that followed."

Johnson's parents remain hopefully that the recently announced federal investigation will help shed new light on what happened to their son.

"We want them to look at the governmental agents actions into this investigation," Crump said. "They want to hold whoever killed their children responsible, and whoever covered [it] up."