Martin Lee Anderson
January 15, 1991 - January 6, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial

Meet Martin Lee Anderson. Martin decided to take his Grandmothers car for a joy ride one day after church, he didn't have her permission. Should this have meant a sentence of death?

When Martin entered the boot camp in Florida on January 5th, his first encounter was to have his hair shaved off and to learn that he would no longer be considered Martin, he would from the on be referred to as "Offender Anderson". "Drill Instructors" are there as a constant reminder, with yelling, calling names and degrading teenagers. These DIs slammed the teenagers against the wall and used their thumbs to apply pressure in a painful way, to control the teenagers. The camp was run with fear, pain and exercise. 

Born January 15, 1991, Martin died on January 6, 2006, as a result of an unlikely form of child abuse. For his crime, Martin was sentenced to spend time at a juvenile detention center which was run much like a boot camp, in Panama City, Florida.

According to a witness, Aaron Swartz, another teenager at the camp, during a routine exercise of running 16 laps, doing sit ups and push ups, Martin began to stagger and then fell. Charles Steven Enfinger, who is employed at the camp and has been said to be one of the most violent employees there, went to Martin and allegedly slammed him up against a wall. Henry

Lincoln McFadden was next to approach Martin and to begin screaming in his face. The rest of the teenagers finished their exercise and were told to sit down and keep  their eyes facing forward. Aaron turned his glance sideways and could see what was going on, though he could hear some things, he was not able to hear it all. Aaron heard what is called radio code and knew it meant that applied what is known as a pressure point, to Martin. Aaron never heard any response from Martin. One of the men watching over the teenagers who were sitting down laughed and stated "Offender Anderson's going to have a long day".  Aaron witnessed another man, Cpl. Joseph Walsh work up a sweat from the struggle. During this incident, which can be seen on video, Charles Enfinger struck Martin over and over on his arm. The nurse came over and placed a pulse reading on Martin's finger, Aaron says he heard it beeping quickly.

The tone of the drill instructor FINALLY went from anger to concern and he said "Get the red bag" which had ammonia sticks used to revive the teenagers in order to make them continue with the routine exercises. According to a DDJ official, using ammonia to revive the teenagers in a non- medical way, is against their policy. The ammonia failed to revived Martin and an ambulance was called to the scene. 

Fifteen hours later, Martin was pronounced dead. The mental health counselor, Ms Miki told the other teenagers it there was a medical reason for Martin's death, using the excuse that athletes die every day caused by medical reasons.

"I don't think that's true at all. Even if it was medical, when he passed out, if they would
have set him down and then gave him medical help right then, I think they could have saved
his life and everything. But instead, they did all pressure pointing, slammed him, beating up
on him and everything. They killed that boy. They didn't help him. They beat him. The stuff
they did to him, they do to everybody everyday. I've never seen somebody get pressure
pointed that many times at once, but it's pretty much like that everyday" 

Aaron Swartz 
.

.

In the beginning, even after the tape was reviewed and it was shown that Martin was beaten and it was obviously the cause of his death,  it was thought that a sickle cell problem had caused Martin's death. The first autopsy report said that Martin had died due to complications from a sickle cell trait and that no signs of death causing trauma or injury had been found.

Florida law says that a body has to be examined in the district where the person died or where the body was found, so a second autopsy was performed. At the request of Martin's family, Michael Baden who is the New York State Police Coroner, was there for the second autopsy. After 12 hours, Michael Baden confirmed what had been known all along, Martin had NOT died of complications of sickle cell or of natural causes. On May 6, 2006, the REAL cause of Martin's death was revealed. Michael Baden said that the cause of Martin's death was asphyxiation on ammonia fumes which was inhaled while guards held Martin's mouth closed and put them under his nose. The fumes from the ammonia caused a constriction in Martin's airway and this lead to asphyxiation and suffocation. 

"The truth is out, we all knew how Martin passed away so I am relieved and  happy today.
It's a beginning. Justice needs to be served."

Gina Jones
.
.

Martin's parents were satisfied with the second autopsy report, though members of the Florida Black Legislative Caucus were angry that no arrests had been made.

"If the guards caused his death, then they need to be arrested  immediately, we can't accept that."
State Senator Frederica A. Wilson

FDLE Commissioner, Guy Tunnell who was the former Sheriff of Bay County was the one who opened the boot camp where Martin died. He sent e-mails to the current Sheriff, Frank McKeithen with his plans for his efforts to make sure no one saw the video tape of Martin being beaten. His efforts proved to be pointless, the tape was released and viewed and show what had happened to Martin. In April of 2006, Guy Tunnell resigned.

On July 12, 2006 Robert Anderson and Gina Jones filed a $40 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit against the Department Of Juvenile Justice and the Bay County Sheriffs Office. Claiming that Martin's civil rights had been violated by both defendants, they also said they had conspired to cover facts about the case. An offer was made by the women to settle for $3 million dollars and that offer was turned down by McKeithen who claimed that the settlement premature since the investigation was not yet complete. Unfortunately, if the case is won, the state has a damage cap of $200,000. Martin's life was worth much more than that. Attorney General Charlie Crist has said that the settlement of $3 million dollars would not be enough.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle set a trial date of April 16, 2007, at the same time he ruled and dismissed the civil rights and conspiracy charges against the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Bay County Sheriff's Office, they would not be held responsible for punitive damages.

On November 28, 2006 seven guards and the nurse who took no action during the beating, were arrested and charged with aggravated manslaughter. Their arraignment will be held on January 18, 2007.

"Today is a good day for me. I'm finally getting justice for my baby,''
Gina Jones



At the time of Martin's death approximately 130 youths were incarcerated in state run boot camps. In February, Frank McKeithen decided to end his contract with the state to operate the boot camp. In a letter to the head of the Department Of Juvenile Justice, Anthony J. Schembri, He said:

 "I believe the integrity of the boot camp in Bay County has been compromised, leaving the
 effectiveness of this program virtually paralyzed."

I have to wonder if he thinks someone who was murdered by the drill instructors and a nurse is responsible, or the murderers themselves. He did have the decency to ban ammonia capsules at the Panama City boot camp. In my own opinion, this is not enough and not fast enough. At this same time the DJJ made some changes and has ordered that punishments such as kicking, punching and wall slamming are no longer allowed. Nurses have been instructed to call 911 at the first sign of trouble. Again, not enough and not soon enough. At least it won't happen to any other teenagers, or at least we can hope.

In April 2006 the Florida legislature voted to close the five boot camps in the state. A different, less military related program which does not allow physical punishment against the juveniles took it's place. The new facility is called STAR. The bill that enacted the STAR program was renamed the "Martin Lee Anderson Act" by the legislature and was signed into law by Governor Jeb Bush on June 1, 2006.

UPDATE:

SHOCKINGLY, the headlines on October 12, 2007 read:

"Jury Acquits Eight in Boot Camp Death"

What kind of people does it take to set eight people free, who obviously played a very real part in the death of a teenage boy?

Coming out of the courtroom, Gina Jones, Martins' mother who was visibly upset said.... "I cannot see my son no more. Everybody see their family members. It's wrong,". 

Benjamin Crump, the family attorney talked to reporters and said...
"You kill a dog, you go to jail. You kill a little black boy and nothing happens." 

The jury took ONLY 90 minutes to decide if the eight people responsible for the death of Martin Anderson would spend up to 30 years in prison for aggravated manslaughter of a child. Among the charges they COULD have found them guilty of were child abuse and culpable negligence. This jury chose, instead, to let them all go free. Clearly the least of what they should have found them guilty of, was child abuse. It is NOT acceptable to hit or kick a child. If any parent did this in their home, they would be charged with child abuse and the child could be taken away from them.

Prosecutor Scott Harmon had this to say:
"You may not hear anything coming out of that video sound-wise, but that video is 
screaming to you in a loud, clear voice, it is telling you that these defendants killed 
Martin Lee Anderson," 

On March 27, 2007, Martin Anderson's family was awarded 2.43 million dollars in a wrongful death suit. On May 2, 2007 The legislature passed a claims bill to pay Martin Anderson's family $5 million dollars. On May 23, 2007 Governor Charlie Crist signed the $5 million dollar claim bill for Martin Anderson's family. Is there any amount of money that is going to make up for the death of this child, is there any amount of money that is going to lesson the pain his family is going through and now the slap in the face that the jury has given them by finding these people not guilty? Is there any amount of money that will bring them back their son? 

If it were one of their children of the people responsible for the death of Martin Anderson, or one of the children of the any jury member, they would probably feel different. Shame on them all for allowing this happen with no punishment to those who did it.


Links to other sites about Martin Lee Anderson

Justice For Martin
A Life Cut Short
Death Occurred in the state of Florida

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