Sunday, October 14, 2007

Boot camp staff cleared of killing teenager

October 13, 2007
By Tom Leonard

Seven former boot camp guards and a nurse have been acquitted of manslaughter concerning the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit and kicked in a videotaped altercation.

Martin's mother, Gina Jones (centre) stormed out of the courtroom after the verdict

An all-white jury took about 90 minutes to clear the defendants of killing Martin Lee Anderson, a black teenager who collapsed while running laps on his first day at the camp in Florida.

Prosecutors said the guards – who are white, black and Asian – neglected Martin by ignoring his medical needs and suffocated him by forcing him to inhale ammonia.

In the video, shown repeatedly during the trial in Panama City, Florida, the guards could be seen striking the boy with their fists and knees.

They also dragged him around the military style camp's exercise yard and forced him to inhale ammonia capsules in what they said was an attempt to revive him. The nurse stood by and watched.

Martin's mother, Gina Jones (centre) stormed out of
the courtroom after the verdict

The verdict came shortly after the publication of a US Congress report which catalogued widespread brutality, including the deaths of at least 10 children, in such camps.

Martin's mother, Gina Jones, stormed out of the courtroom after the verdict. The family had long sought a trial after they alleged that authorities initially tried to cover up the death in January 2006.

The incident sparked outrage and prompted Florida lawmakers to close down all military-style juvenile camps.