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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 October 2007, 06:39 GMT 07:39 UK
Staff in boot camp case walk free
By Vincent Dowd
BBC News, Washington

Footage of Martin Lee Anderson being beaten
Video footage showed Martin Anderson being beaten
Eight defendants have been acquitted of manslaughter in the case of a teenager who died after being punched and kicked at a Florida boot camp.

Martin Lee Anderson, 14, died a day after the beating was administered by guards at the camp in January 2006.

A jury took only 90 minutes to decide the seven instructors and one nurse at the Bay County boot camp in north-west Florida were not guilty of his death.

Video tape shows the teenager being hit and dragged about by the guards.

The video was recorded on the camp surveillance system.

Martin Lee Anderson in a photo provided by the Bay County Sheriff's Office
You kill a dog, you go to jail - you kill a little black boy and nothing happens
Anderson family lawyer

But giving testimony during the trial, two doctors told the court the death was attributable to an undiagnosed blood disorder which the instructors could not have known about.

The defendants testified they had not attacked Anderson, but had followed the rules of the camp, designed to instil discipline into juveniles sent there.

They said they had suspected Anderson of faking illness to avoid exercise.

Camp closures

Martin Lee Anderson's death has already led to the resignation of the head of Florida's Department of Law Enforcement and all juvenile boot camps in the state have since been closed.

The family are to receive $5m to settle civil claims.

Speaking after the not guilty verdict, the family's lawyer told journalists: "You kill a dog, you go to jail - you kill a little black boy and nothing happens."

Had the all-white jury found the eight defendants guilty, they could have faced up to 30 years in jail.



SEE ALSO
Staff charged in boot camp death
28 Nov 06 |  Americas
US boot camp guards 'killed boy'
05 May 06 |  Americas

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