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Rally planned on behalf of boot camp victim

Dara Kam / Palm Beach Post | April 5 2006

TALLAHASSEE — Film stars Martin and Charlie Sheen are slated to join national civil rights leaders in an April 21 rally on behalf of the family of a 14-year-old Panhandle boy who died in January after being kneed and punched by Bay County Sheriff's boot camp guards.

Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton also are among the speakers scheduled to attend the event in Tallahassee, said Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for the family of Martin Lee Anderson. Other celebrities expected to appear are former TLC member Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Afeni Shakur, mother of slain rapper Tupac Shakur.

Charlie Sheen last week donated $10,000 to the boy's parents, Gina Jones and Robert Anderson, after he viewed a videotaped recording of the beating, Crump said Monday.

The boy's subsequent death has received the attention of the international media, angered black lawmakers in Florida and spurred civil rights activists throughout the nation to call on Gov. Jeb Bush to fire Bay County officials, including Sheriff W. Frank McKeithen, the boot camp guards who participated in the beating, the nurse who oversaw the event and medical examiner Charles Siebert.

Siebert found that Anderson's cause of death was related to sickle cell trait, but another medical examiner who was hired by the Anderson family and who observed a second autopsy has disputed that. He says Anderson died as a result of the beating.

A series of e-mails from Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Guy Tunnell, a former Bay County sheriff and friend of McKeithen, during an FDLE investigation of the teen's death raises even more questions, Crump said.

Last week, the special prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober, pulled Tunnell and FDLE from the investigation and instead tapped the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office to assist.

The purpose of the April rally is to push Bush to move the venue for a potential trial from Bay County and to maintain the public's awareness of the investigation, Crump said.

"It's justice for this child," he said.

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