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Jury Selection Begins in Boot Camp Death

September 24th, 2007 by Mike Vasilinda

Jury selection for 7 guards and a nurse charged with causing the death of 14 year old Martin Lee Anderson at the Bay County Boot Camp in January 2005 got under way today. The 8 are charged with criminal manslaughter of a child. As Mike Vasilinda tells us , a large number of potential jurors were called in the case because of pre trial publicity.

Hear it Here: Jury Selection Begins in Boot Camp Death

Military jets from nearby bases make frequent flights over the Panama City Civic Center…where 1450 jurors were summoned. The Jets are an indication of how conservative the area can be.

Inside, potential juror after potential juror shook their head no when asked if they had formed an opinion. Most had seen some part of this videotape, showing 14 year old Martin Lee Anderson being kneed in the back and having ammonia tablets shoved up his nose. One potential juror told the court he believed in the American system of justice. “In our justice system, youre supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, and I think the whole state went crazy. said the middle aged potential juror.

Several dozen FAMU and FSU students came to protest what they called justice denied…their shirts already convicting the 8 in the court of public opinion. FSU student Shamair Howard said one look at the tape should be enough. “To sit and see a yong child beaten on camera to death, is startling.

Police presence was heavy. but a rumored counter demonstration didnt materialize. One TV news photographer was detained briefly for crossing a police line.

The number of prospective jurors being called here is seven times the normal number
that would be called in a criminal case. Dianna Riddle made the first cut….even though she expressed an opinion… That they were not guilty. she said afterward.

But others who spoke their mind were sent home, including Steven Crase, who told the court he didn’t believe in violence”.

Despite pre trial publicity, experts believe a jury can be seated in this conservative panhandle town.

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