Published April 26, 2006
MIAMI – Florida's attorney general is calling for an investigation into the medical examiner who ruled that a 14-year-old boy beaten by guards at a juvenile boot camp died of natural causes.
The review wouldn't cover the autopsy of the boy, Martin Lee Anderson, but it would look for "fundamental flaws" in other autopsies conducted by Dr. Charles Siebert.
In a letter to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, Attorney General Charlie Crist asks the state agency to decide whether Siebert violated state law while performing at least three autopsies, "and any other flawed autopsies of which we might not be aware."
The commission's chairman said Tuesday it would look into the cases.
Crist, a Republican candidate for governor, specifically asked the commission not to investigate Anderson's death, saying doing so could impede an "ongoing criminal investigation."
Anderson died Jan. 6, a day after he was punched and kicked by boot camp guards during a videotaped scuffle. Siebert determined the boy died of complications from sickle cell trait, a usually benign blood disorder. The boy's family and others disputed that, and a second autopsy was ordered.
Results of that second autopsy haven't been released, but the office of a special prosecutor has said Anderson didn't die of natural causes. The case has led to protests and the resignation of the head of Florida's Department of Law Enforcement.
Siebert, in a statement to The Miami Herald, said Crist's call for an investigation was "a politically motivated witch hunt" that was based on "misinformation and political pressure."
"I welcome an opportunity to set the record straight and brief him on the facts of these three cases, as well as on my findings in the Martin Anderson case," Siebert said.
Among the cases Crist listed for review were the autopsies of James Terry and Donna Reed, a father and daughter killed by a tornado during Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Siebert's autopsy described Reed, a woman, as having "unremarkable" testicles and said Terry had no scars, though the truck driver had a seven-inch scar along his spine.
If the commission finds evidence of wrongdoing, it can issue reprimands, put Siebert on probation or remove him from office.