Senate panel reinstates full $5-million for death

Published April 25, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - The parents of a teenager who died after being roughed up by guards at a state-run boot camp should get $5-million, not a smaller amount recommended by lawyers, a state Senate committee voted Tuesday.

Action by the Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee means the full Senate will vote on the settlement as early as Friday. It would then have to go to the House.

"Martin Lee Anderson could have been your child or my child," said Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa.

Anderson, 14, was sent to the Bay County boot camp for juvenile offenders after taking his grandmother's car on a joyride. On his first day, he collapsed during a run and surveillance video shows guards thrashing him.

Experts say he was suffocated, disputing the original finding that he had a blood disorder known as sickle cell trait.

The family already has received $2.4-million from the Bay County Sheriff's Office, which operated the camp for the Juvenile Justice Department.

With Gov. Charlie Crist's backing, it sought $5-million from the state. But lawyers who reviewed the case for the Legislature said the family should get $2.3-million.

On Tuesday, Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, withdrew an amendment for the smaller amount.

The panel then voted unanimously to give the family $4.8-million, since the state has already paid $200,000.