8 Charged in Death at Fla. Boot Camp
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
PANAMA CITY, Fla., Nov. 28 -- Seven guards and a nurse at a juvenile boot camp were charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child Tuesday in the death of a teenager earlier this year.
Martin Lee Anderson, 14, died hours after guards were videotaped manhandling him Jan. 5 after he collapsed during a forced run. An autopsy determined Martin was suffocated by ammonia capsules put into his nose.
Guards said the boy was uncooperative and had refused to participate in exercises. Martin had arrived at the Bay County Boot Camp earlier that day.
The death shook the state's troubled juvenile-justice system, leading to the closure of the Bay County camp and the resignation of Florida's top law enforcement officer, who founded the camp while Bay County sheriff.
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) signed a bill in May to replace the boot camps with programs that offer job training and counseling and prohibit physical discipline.
The charges, which carry a maximum 30-year prison term, were announced by Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober, who was named by Bush as a special prosecutor to investigate the case.
"We hope at the end of the day, justice will be served," Bush said.
Bob Pell, an attorney for former guard Joseph Walsh II, said: "I was hoping cooler heads would prevail, but we will deal with this as it comes down. We understood the political pressure that was brought to bear."
Waylon Graham, attorney for Lt. Charles Helms, the highest-ranking officer charged, said that he had long anticipated charges.
Martin had been sent to the boot camp for violating probation in a theft case. Boot camps often use grueling exercise to instill discipline in juvenile offenders.