TAMPA -- A 14-year-old boy who was kicked and punched by guards at a juvenile boot camp died because the sheriff's officials suffocated him, a medical examiner said yesterday, contradicting a colleague who blamed the death on a usually benign blood disorder.
''Martin Anderson's death was caused by suffocation due to actions of the guards at the boot camp," said Dr. Vernard Adams, who conducted the second autopsy.
Adams said the suffocation was caused by hands blocking the boy's mouth, as well as the ''forced inhalation of ammonia fumes" that caused his vocal cords to spasm, blocking his upper airway. The guards had said in an incident report that they used ammonia capsules to keep Anderson conscious.
Martin Lee Anderson's body was exhumed after a camp surveillance videotape surfaced showing the guards roughing him up Jan. 5, a day before he died. His family had questioned the initial finding by Dr. Charles Siebert, the Bay County medical examiner, that the boy died of complications of sickle cell trait.
''I am disturbed by Dr. Adams's findings and consider the actions of the Bay County boot camp guards deplorable," said Governor Jeb Bush, who ordered the investigation that led to the second autopsy.
In a statement, Bush assured Anderson's parents that the state will provide any resources prosecutors deem necessary ''to complete this investigation as quickly as possible."
No one has been arrested in connection with the death, which sparked protests at the state Capitol, forced lawmakers to scrap the military-style camps, and led to the resignation of the state's top law enforcement officer.
Anderson's parents planned a news conference last evening at their attorney's Tallahassee office to respond to the findings. Marc Tochterman, a spokesman for the Bay County Sheriff's Office, which operated the boot camp, said the agency had no immediate comment.
Siebert did not immediately return a call seeking comment, but he has repeatedly stood by his findings, saying they were based on reliable science, not emotions. He has also said that he was being unfairly attacked by special-interest groups.
State Attorney General Charlie Crist said that Siebert ''should probably be suspended pending further review." He said the second autopsy report wasn't surprising.
''I can't say I'm shocked after having watched the tape. What was surprising was the first autopsy," Crist said. He said there will ''probably will be arrests."
The videotape shows Anderson being kneed, struck, and dragged by guards on his first day at the Bay County Sheriff's boot camp for juvenile offenders.
He was eventually taken to a Pensacola hospital, where he died a few hours later.
The second autopsy was ordered by Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober, whom Bush tapped to lead the investigation.
Siebert's autopsy concluded that physical exertion had triggered sickle cell trait and ultimately caused small blood clots to develop in Anderson's bloodstream, which resulted in internal bleeding.