Justice for Martin Lee Anderson
From today's Sun-Sentinel-
TALLAHASSEE · Nearly 11 months after a teenage boy died following a manhandling by his overseers at a Panhandle boot camp, a beating that was caught on videotape and led to an overhaul of Florida's juvenile justice system, seven former guards and a nurse were charged Tuesday with manslaughter, a felony that carries a potential 30-year prison term.
``I'm finally getting justice for my baby,'' said Gina Jones, mother of Martin Lee Anderson, who was 14.
Prosecutors said her son died hours after guards choked, kicked and beat him when he collapsed in the exercise yard of the now-defunct Bay County sheriff's camp in Panama City on Jan. 5. He had just been sent to the camp for its regimen of military-style training and discipline after taking a joyride in his grandmother's car.
The death of the North Florida teen not only rattled the state institutions that are supposed to punish and rehabilitate minors, but led to the state-mandated closing of the Bay County facility and three similar military-style camps for children. A camp videocamera filmed the harsh treatment of Anderson, and the resulting tape, aired nationwide, put intense pressure on Gov. Jeb Bush, especially from blacks, for a thorough investigation into the black youth's death. In April, college students waged a two-day protest in Bush's office and a march on Florida's Capitol.
An initial autopsy conducted by Bay County authorities found that the youth had died of natural complications of sickle cell trait, a usually benign blood disorder common among blacks. That finding was greeted with widespread outrage and disbelief, and the special prosecutor subsequently named by Bush in the case, Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober, ordered another autopsy. That examination found Anderson's death was due to suffocation caused by the camp guards.
Anderson's death is a tragedy but is a witch hunt in progress here?
Bill O has two very lengthy posts that call the conclusions of the second autopsy into question. Click here and here. Both are highly technical but worth reading. The Anderson family deserves justice but so do the seven guards and one nurse. This case is far too complicated to be tried by the media, bloggers or public opinion. We'll just have to trust that 6 or 12 Florida citizens can do what is right.
Hat tip- A Cool Change
Linked to- Bullwinkle, Bright & Early,