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Transcript: Boot Camp Death

This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," March 14, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Two autopsies, two very, very, very different results. Fourteen-year-old Martin Anderson died hours after this videotape was shot at a Florida boot camp on January 6th. The first autopsy claimed he died from a rare blood disorder. His family objected. Yesterday a second autopsy was conducted, and forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden was there. He said the boy did not die from a blood disorder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. MICHAEL BADEN, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: They concluded that the sickle cell trait, which is a condition that about 12 percent of black people have in this country, did not have anything to do with his death and that he did not die of natural causes, that he died to something related to what you just saw just now on the film.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: The teen's mother says she wants action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GINA JONES, MARTIN ANDERSON'S MOTHER: I'm glad that I did make the right decision to pull my baby up, which I didn't want to, just to get the truth out. Now the truth is out, and I want justice. I want the guards and the nurse to be arrested. It's time now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Let's bring back our panel.

Jeff, let me just briefly go through the facts and see if you can defend your state of Florida. Number one, they said that he died from a sickle cell trait, not that he had sickle cell anemia or a disorder, but he the trait; he carried the trait. Number two, that the first autopsy was done on January 6th, more than two months later before we get the second autopsy. We've got the tape of people beating with others standing by, simply standing by.

Can you defend any of this, or why aren't there charges for murder or manslaughter tonight?

JEFF BROWN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTY.: Well, I can't defend it. I'm ashamed to say this was the conduct that went on in my state.

Clearly, I think there should be manslaughter charges, at least manslaughter charges, that are brought. I'm really concerned, though, that whether there was a cover-up here by the medical examiner to try to sweep this under the rug and cover the actions of those guards whom we entrusted with the health and care of this young man.

So I definitely think there should be an investigation. My hats off, though, to the state attorney here, Mark Ober. He did a wonderful job exposing this case to the light, to the truth. Now I think they need to follow it up and show the rest of the public that this can't go on here.

VAN SUSTEREN: Jeff, why do you say manslaughter? I mean, we look at this tape, and they were beating the living day lights out of a kid. This is a child. This is not an adult. This is a child in their custody.

BROWN: Yes, the question is going to be, though, whether they knew or should have known that their actions would lead to his death. They clearly are beating him.

I don't think you're going to be able to prove, though that they beat him to kill him. So the question has got to be second-degree murder or maybe manslaughter.

TED WILLIAMS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTY.: What are you drinking tonight? This was some thugs beating this kid. And the fact of the matter is, they need to be charged and need to have been charged yesterday, with murder. Let me go one step further.

BROWN: Let me respond to that. I'm not disagreeing with you. I'm not saying that they shouldn't be charged. I'm just saying that I don't think you are going to be able to prove that when they're beating him, they're beating him with the intent to kill him. They're beating him with the intent to beat him. That is the critical difference.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask you this, Bernie, and give you a hypothetical. Suppose it happens outside a bar, and a bunch of guys beat a guy — murder or manslaughter?

BERNIE GRIMM, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTY.: Yes, I'll split the difference. I can see an argument that Jeff makes. But for my money, it's second-degree murder. You have five guys that outweigh this kid easily by over 1,000 pounds. You throw in a nurse, that's another 250 pounds. If she wants to sue me, go ahead. Maybe she is 240. It is disgusting. You cannot die according to the Center from Sickle Cell Disease, right here at Howard University, you cannot die from a sickle cell trait. The only time you see the trait is when someone dies. You cannot die from it. It doesn't cause death.

VAN SUSTEREN: That means you are a carrier to pass on to somebody else.

GRIMM: Right, that's all it is. It's like my kid is going to be bald when he turns 40.

VAN SUSTEREN: Jim, would you look and charge this for murder. Look, Dr. Baden — and I respect him immensely, and he's very sort of gentle about this other medical examiner, and he's the doctor; I'm not — but the idea of a trait is astounding to me.

JIM HAMMER, FMR. SAN FRANCISCO ASST D.A.: Well, it's, I think, B.S., I'm allowed to say, not the other word. It's a bunch of B.S., Greta. Clearly there was either a cover-up in this case or a willful looking away from the facts in this case.

And I'll tell you, if Florida itself can't do it, the feds ought to quickly come into the case. They have the authority in this kind of case, where there's violence under the color of authority, to prosecute.

And in terms of being murder or manslaughter, you punch someone once and they die, it's a freak accident. You kick someone in the head. You beat them with sticks. You beat a 14-year-old repeatedly and a crowd of people watch you do it, it's a bunch of thugs, and it's a murder, Greta.

WILLIAMS: But thank God for Michael Baden. But this is the key, the first medical examiner needs to be terminated from his job, and not only needs to be terminated, I think the families down there needs to have a lot of bodies exhumed if you have a medical examiner this incompetent using sickle cell traits to say that this kid died of.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, and, Jim, when we talk about manslaughter, you talk about you're at the grocery store and you back somebody in the car and the parking lot because you're not looking, and you're really careful.

HAMMER: Or there is a bar fight and you punch somebody, and they fall, and occasionally somebody hits their heads. But when there are repeated punches or kicks to the head, those are murder cases. Prosecutors around the county prosecute around the country prosecute those cases and get murder convictions in those kinds of things.

VAN SUSTEREN: Jeff, why did it take so long?

HAMMER: You don't need the intent to kill is the point.

BROWN: Let me just say this, though, Ted is misquoting me. What I said is it's a question of whether it's a second-degree murder or manslaughter. That's where this case is going to come down. And please, I'm a defense lawyer, I certainly don't condone this. I'd love to them go after him for first degree, so...

VAN SUSTEREN: Jeff, do you have any explanation why it took two months? I mean, the kid got beaten and the autopsy on January 6th. And I mean, why did it take so long? And was anyone sort of dragging his feet, unwilling to do this? I mean, what was the problem?

BROWN: Well, the problem is that I think it was a cover-up. I think the medical examiner was covering for them, and this is where the hat goes off to the press, because if the press hadn't picked this case up and it was all over the papers down here in Florida and if they hadn't repeatedly covered this story, then we would never get to the point where a second medical examiner was coming in to review these facts.

VAN SUSTEREN: Was this boot camp shutdown, or does it still exists?

BROWN: No, it's still in existence. The problem is that I like the theory that they're doing, is to try to save these young juveniles, or these young boys, and not send them into to become career offenders. But the recidivism rate here is just way too high. I don't know if the boot camp's the answer.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I think the reason, correct me if I am wrong, the reason he was there, is he violated his probation. He was on probation for with his cousin stealing his grandmother's car from a church parking lot, which at age 14, when I was 14, it wasn't the right thing to do, but usually your family took care of it.

BROWN: We have zero tolerance.

GRIMM: We called it joyriding and I had to meet my father in the woodshed, so...

WILLIAMS: Yes, but this was a black kid down there, and I think it took so long because this examiner down there didn't give a damn about this black kid.

HAMMER: And that's why they should be tough on this case, when it's a black kid. They see here this mother screaming out for justice. Especially in this case, the system ought to say, we care about this and put resources in it and go after those cops tough.

VAN SUSTEREN: Panel, thank you.

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