Charles Long, 59, was originally charged with second-degree murder in the death of camp participant Anthony Haynes, but jurors convicted him of the lesser charge of reckless manslaughter. “There was never any doubt as to the guilt on Count I (the homicide charge), it was the level of guilt,” said juror Myrna Lee after the trial.
Long was also found guilty of aggravated assault for holding a knife to the chest of another teenager and threatening to “gut him like a fish.” The jury deadlocked on eight counts of child abuse related to other camp participants. Youths at the camp ranged from 7 to 18 years of age.
Because the aggravated assault conviction carries a mandatory 5-15 year prison sentence, Long was taken into custody immediately following the verdicts.
Haynes, a troubled, overweight teenager, had been sent to Long’s Buffalo Soldiers Re-Enactors Association boot camp after he slashed the tires on his mother’s car and was caught shoplifting.
In July 2001, while sitting in a disciplinary line in the triple-digit desert heat, Haynes started behaving erratically, eating dirt and possibly hallucinating. A counselor and four other boys took Haynes to a nearby hotel room and placed him, unconscious, in a shower where he inhaled water. When the counselor called to report Haynes’ condition, Long told him to bring the boy back to camp instead of seeking medical help.
Haynes died at the boot camp despite attempts to resuscitate him. A medical examiner determined that Haynes died of complications from near drowning and from dehydration. The counselor was charged with negligent homicide, but prosecutors promised him probation in exchange for his testimony.
Long and his wife, Carmelina Long, maintain that he did nothing wrong. “They’ve put an innocent man in jail,” said Ms. Long. “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.” The camp was shut down after Haynes’ death.
Sources: The Arizona Republic, Associated Press
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