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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Boot camp jury pool trimmed to 151 people
Most would-be jurors have seen the video of the teenager's beating.
By ABBIE VANSICKLE, Times Staff Writer
Published September 26, 2007
Boot camp nurse Kristin Schmidt, left, speaks with her lawyer, Ashley Stone Benedik, Tuesday. She and seven guards are on trial.
[MELISSA LYTTLE | Times]
In the wake of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson's death, the Bay County boot camp is deserted and overrun by weeds. The camp was closed in January 2006.
Photo taken just before Martin Lee Anderson entered the boot camp facility.
[KEN HELLE | Times]
PANAMA CITY - One by one Tuesday, potential jurors gave their opinions on what happened to Martin Lee Anderson at Bay County's boot camp.
A nurse told attorneys she found the behavior of the boot camp's nurse disgusting. A woman who works for the local State Attorney's Office had heard plenty of gossip. A third had watched a video of what happened at the camp and called it disturbing.
Still, all promised to keep an open mind and were among the 151 Bay County residents slated to return to the Marina Civic Center today at 9 a.m. for the next phase in selecting a six-person jury to hear the case of boot camp employees accused of killing 14-year-old Anderson. The trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 3.
For two days, defense attorneys and prosecutors screened people to find out whether they already had an unwavering opinion in the case.
Anderson died after his first day at the boot camp in Bay County in January 2006. A grainy videotape showed the guards and the teen in the camp's yard. Just what happened there is the subject of the case.
What is clear is that Anderson struggled with the guards, who used ammonia capsules on him and, the following day, the teen was dead. Seven guards and the camp's nurse face charges of aggravated manslaughter in connection with his death.
Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet first asked for the pool of 1,400 people to be narrowed to 150, but he increased that to 151 Tuesday after he learned that one of Monday's jurors gave a television interview. Potential jurors were told not to speak with any reporters.
The vast majority of people questioned had seen the video and heard about Anderson's death, though many had only vague knowledge of it. Most promised they could set aside any opinions and begin with a clean slate if selected.
People who could make such a vow were approved for the next phase.
Those who were excused included a man whose father works in law enforcement in Bay County and said he would find the guards not guilty; a woman who believed firmly in the guards' guilt; and a man who works as a press supervisor for the local newspaper and said the medical examiner in the case was given a bum rap.