For breakfast, campers got an apple. For lunch, a carrot, and for dinner, a bowl of beans.
In between, they were put through "physical training" in the desert scrub southwest of Buckeye. On the fifth day, some - those who wanted to leave - were forced to sit in the sun, maybe for hours.
Did I mention it was July? Did I mention that they were wearing black sweat suits? advertisement
Did I mention that these campers were kids and that one of them died?
What went on at the summer endurance camp run by Chuck Long during the summer of 2001 was an outrage. It's shocking that Long had those kids out there in the desert in July - and that parents allowed it. It's a full-out tragedy that a 14-year-old boy died.
But was it really murder?
Anthony Haynes had troubles, as kids sometimes do. He was 14 and overweight. He came from a broken home, had been caught stealing and battled depression. His mother was looking for help.
Unfortunately, she found Chuck Long.
The ex-Marine ran boot camps. One was closed in 2000 amid complaints of abuse, but Anthony's mother likely didn't know that. All she knew was that she needed help and that Long was offering it.
His brochure outlined a "NO NONSENSE - IN YOUR FACE - TOUGH LOVE operation." It warned that breaking the rules would result in "additional physical training" and it disclosed that kids might be handcuffed or given corporal punishment.
Clearly, this wasn't scout camp.
Parents were advised to provide a uniform before their kids headed to the desert on June 27, 2001 - a black sweatshirt, black sweatpants and black knit hat.
On July 1, nine kids, kids who wanted out, were forced to sit in the sun. Anthony was one of them. No one really knows how long they endured it. Some estimate 30 minutes. Some, several hours.
There were reports that Anthony was denied water. There were also reports that he refused water. At some point, he began acting strangely and eating dirt, something he apparently had done before.
Eventually, he collapsed and was taken to a motel to cool off, at Long's direction. The staffer who drove him, caring soul that he was, dumped the boy in the tub and proceeded to watch TV. By the time he checked on Anthony, the boy was drowning.
The staffer, Troy Hutty, called Long to complain that Anthony was faking and Long ordered them to return.
By the time they arrived, Anthony Haynes was dead.
Now, Long is on trial, charged with second-degree murder and child abuse. And who wouldn't want to see this guy punished? Maybe even dressed in black sweats and dumped out there in the desert.
But I've got to ask: Was it really murder?
Negligence, sure. Manslaughter, maybe. But murder?
In their zeal to avenge Anthony's death, it looks to me like prosecutors have overcharged one guy and let another off the hook. Now, they're faced with convincing a jury that it was murder out there in the desert. That's going to be tough to prove.
For one thing, Anthony's death was ruled accidental.
He died of complications from nearly drowning and dehydration.
For another, prosecutors gave a deal to the guy who was actually there when Anthony died.
Hutty - the man who put the boy in a tub and left him - was allowed to plead guilty to negligent homicide in exchange for testifying against Long.
As a reward, he'll get probation.
Reach Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org or (602) 444-8635.
See related: Boot Camp for Kids - Torturing Teenagers for Fun and Profit
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