Charles Long, founder of a summer desert survival camp near Buckeye, was found guilty of reckless manslaughter today in the 2001 death of a 14-year-old camp participant. The jury, which began deliberations on Dec. 14, also convicted him of aggravated assault for threatening another camper with a knife; they were hung on eight counts of child abuse.
Charles Long, left, was accused of telling camp counselors not to take Anthony Haynes to a hospital.
“This is wrong,’’ said Carmelina Long, after her husband’s conviction. “They've put an innocent man in jail… All he ever did was dedicate his life to working with kids… He will be vindicated. He's a good man, a soldier for the Lord.''
Each count stems from a different child attending the camp operated by Long’s Buffalo Soldiers Re-Enactors Association. The most serious charge arose from the July 2001 death of Anthony Haynes.
Haynes, who attended the camp, was sitting in a disciplinary line in the July heat when he began acting erratically, eating dirt and possibly hallucinating. A counselor and several youths took him to a hotel and placed him, unconscious, in a shower bath, where he inhaled water.
Then rather than call for medical help, they took him back to the camp, where he died.
Haynes mother, Melanie Hudson, said she was pleased with the jury’s decision. “…What they did is a difficult thing to do. It won’t bring Tony back.” But she added that she was, “thankful this nightmare is over.”
Jurors struggled to reach a decision on Count 1, the homicide charge, among options ranging from second-degree murder to negligence. They settled on reckless manslaughter.
Myrna Lee, the only panelist to speak with a reporter, said: "There was never any doubt as to the guilt on Count 1, it was the level of guilt."
Long, 59, was accused of telling the counselors to bring Haynes back to the camp rather than taking him to a hospital when he wasn’t responding.
Long maintained the allegations against him were false.
The trial began Oct. 6 before Judge Ronald S. Reinstein of Maricopa County Superior Court and lasted through early December.
Former Maricopa County Chief Medical Examiner Philip Keen testified during the trial that Haynes might have been saved if camp counselors had sought medical attention. But he stopped short of saying that counselors should recognize the symptoms, and ruled the death an accident.
Haynes died of complications from near-drowning and dehydration, Keen said. He also told jurors that one of tje boy's sinus cavities was full of fluid -- symptomatic of drowning -- and his lungs were so full that they were twice their normal weight. Also, his electrolyte levels showed that he had become severely dehydrated over the last hours of his life, he said.
"He probably needs water more than he needs medical attention," Keen said.
However, on questioning from Deputy County Attorney Mark Barry, Keen would not pinpoint a time when Long and his associates should have called for help.
"When he's not responding, we need to do something for him," Keen said.
Among key witnesses who helped painted the pictire of what happened at the camp was Troy Hutty, an adult who attended the tough-love boot camp. Hutty pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in Haynes' death, and was promised a sentence of probation if he testified in Long's trial.
But Hutty, 32, had difficulty remembering many details, and in his testy responses to the prosecutor's questions, reinforced the defense's argument that Long was not with Haynes as he was dying nor when other allegations of abuse took place.
Hutty flew to Phoenix from his home in Pennsylvania to testify. During his testimony, he said that he and his two children attended Long's camp as a vacation and so that his children could learn about Buffalo Soldiers, African-Americans who fought in military campaigns against Mexicans and Native Americans in the late 19th century West. Long's association re-enacts those battles.
Many of the other children, who ranged in age from 7 to 18, had been in trouble with the law or with their families.
Anthony Haynes was an overweight boy taking medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. On July 1, 2001, Hutty said, Haynes began acting erratic while sitting in the sun in a "drop on request" or DOR line, because he wanted to leave the camp.
Hutty claimed that Haynes ate dirt and refused to drink or wash out his mouth with water.
Then Haynes ran around the campsite "screaming and making a bunch of crazy sounds" and doing what Hutty called "Three Stooges antics," striking others, hitting himself in the face and smearing dirt on himself.
When Haynes later appeared to go into convulsions, Hutty claimed he went to put a pen in the child's mouth to keep him from swallowing his tongue.
"He cracked a smile as if he was just playing around," Hutty told the court.
According to Hutty, Long then told Hutty to take Haynes and four other boys to a nearby hotel to shower. They carried Haynes to a pickup truck and placed him in the bed, then carried him up to the room. He was now unresponsive and started vomiting dirt and stones in the room. Hutty and the boys undressed him and placed him in the shower.
When Hutty checked on him, the shower drain had clogged with the vomit, though he claimed that Haynes' face was above water. Then he said he used his foot to put pressure on the boy's stomach to force out more dirt and stones.
He called Long, who told him to bring the boy back to camp.
When he got there, Haynes' pupils were dilated, and Hutty and Long began performing CPR, but Haynes died.
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