The parents of Kendrick Johnson have been ordered to pay $300,000 in legal fees for the people they accused of killing their son and covering up his death.
The ruling by Lowndes County Superior Court Judge Richard Porter is related to a 2015 wrongful death lawsuit filed by Johnson’s parents against brothers Brian and Branden Bell, who they say murdered their son.
Johnson was found dead rolled up in a gym mat in June of 2013, and while investigators concluded that he had died from asphyxiation while reaching for a pair of sneakers, Kenneth and Jackie Johnson insisted that it was no accident.
They claimed that Brian and Branden’s father, FBI agent Rick Bell, along with a school superintendent and former sheriff, had rolled Johnson’s body in the mat and enlisted the superintendent’s daughters to “discover” the body.
“Judge Porter has now put those false accusations to rest and determined that the Johnsons’ and their lawyer’s accusations were substantially frivolous, groundless and vexatious,” said attorney Jim Elliott, who represents former Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine. “All of those who have been falsely accused have been vindicated. Truth prevails. Justice has been done.”
In addition to the Johnsons, their attorney, Chevene King, was also ordered to reimburse the almost two dozen defendants from that initial lawsuit.