Sunday, October 14, 2007

Boot Camp Trial - Day Six of Testimony - A Long Day in Court

WJHG News Channel 7
Oct 11, 2007
Reporter: Kristen Berset

Last Day of Boot Camp Testimony

Jurors in the Martin Lee Anderson boot camp case heard the final testimony Wednesday, including 2 key medical experts who say Anderson died of natural causes. It was another emotion packed day.

It was a day filled with drama at the trial of 8 former Bay County Boot Camp employees charged in the death of the 14 year old Anderson. Presiding Judge Michael Overstreet warned the audience several times about making comments and noises. He then ordered several out of the courtroom.

"There's been complaints that ya'll have been making noises through this trial. I've gotten them again this morning. I gave you a fair warning yesterday. Do Not return to this courtroom."

One of those banned from the courtroom Wednesday afternoon was Anderson's father, Robert Anderson. Earlier that morning Martin Anderson's mother, Gina Jones, left the court room sobbing as a former Drill Instructor described striking the teen's arm.

Defendant, Joseph Walsh the second, was taken to Bay Medical Center after suffering a panic attack. But after a short recess, the defense called it's key witness to the stand.

"Dr. Seibert what is Anderson cause of death?" “He died from complications of sickle cell trait."

Interim Bay County Medical Examiner Dr Charles Siebert performed the initial autopsy on Anderson the day after he died.

"Did holding ammonia to his nose and a hand over his mouth and forcing him to breath contribute to his death? No it did not"

Sieberts findings have been widely criticized, "It's about the truth. You are trying to protect your reputation - your career.” “No Sir, My reputation and career in this state is in the trash."

So much so the state asked for another autopsy performed by Dr Vernard Adams of Tampa. And after Adams reported that Anderson died from suffocation by the drill instructors, Dr. Siebert says he was asked to meet with Adams, state prosecutor Pam Bondi, the Anderson’s and their civil lawyer Benjamin Crump.

"As soon as I walked in they said so you ready to change your death certificate? I said not with the evidence I have seen, I'm not. Then discussion continued with Dr. Baden, Ms. Bondi and Mr. Crump and they told me it'll be okay. We'll just say you didn’t have all the information at the time."

But Dr. Siebert stood by his findings.

"If not for sickle cell trait would Anderson have survived the boot camp that day?” “ Yes"

And so does Sickle Cell expert Dr Randy Eichner from the University of Oklahoma.

"In your opinion did Martin Lee Anderson die as a result of sickle cell exertion collapse?" “Yes.”

”How certian are you?” “As close to 100% as you can be in medicine."

The testimony phase of the trial ended Wednesday night after a very long day in the court room.

Court resumes Thursday at 10 am for closing arguments.