Teen in youth camp did not die of natural causes, second autopsy shows
BY PHIL LONG AND CAROL MARBIN MILLER
TAMPA - Martin Lee Anderson, the 14-year-old boy seen on a videotape being beaten, kneed and choked by guards of a Panhandle boot camp, did not die of natural causes or sickle-cell trait as originally reported, a pathologist who participated in the teen's second autospy said today.
Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City medical examiner hired by Martin's family, told reporters today that Martin probably died of a beating by the guards at the camp and not from natural causes, as Bay County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Charles Siebert ruled.
''We all agreed,'' Baden told reporters, ``Martin did not die of natural causes.''
Baden's conclusions from Monday's autopsy were echoed by the Tampa medical examiner appointed officially to determine the cause of Martin's death.
''We will confirm that preliminary findings indicate that Martin Anderson did not die of sickle cell trait, nor did he die of natural causes,'' said Pam Bondi, assistant state attorney and spokeswoman for State Attorney Mark Ober in Hillsborough County.
''Our investigation will take months to complete,'' Bondi added.
Still to be determined: precisely what killed the teen, who entered the Bay County Sheriff's Office Boot Camp Jan. 5 after being convicted of going joyriding in his grandmother's jeep.
''Why he died is still being figured out,'' said Baden. ``What you see on the tape is really what happened.
Martin was exhumed from a Panama City cemetary Friday, and was autopsied for the second time Monday by Tampa's chief medical examiner, Vern Adams, after Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Ober as special prosecutor in the case.
Ober's appointment followed mounting criticism from medical experts on sickle cell trait, who called Siebert's findings extremely implausible, and allegations from family members and lawmakers that Siebert and the former Bay County sheriff, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commission Guy Tunnell, were waging a ``coverup.''
The FDLE is investigating Martin's death, and will report its findings to Ober, who will then determine whether any of the eight guards involved in Martin's manhandling, as well as a nurse seen observing the melee, will be charged with any criminal acts.
At the 12-hour autopsy Monday were Adams, much of his staff, Ober, Tampa's top prosecutor, and two lawyers for Martin's parents, Gina Jones and Robert Anderson. Also present was Siebert, whose original autopsy, released Feb. 16, sparked much of the controversy in the case.
When asked Tuesday how Siebert ''misdiagnosed'' the cause of Martin's death, Bader said: ``I think he made a mistake. I don't know what pressures were on him to make a mistake. Mr. Ober will look into that.''