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Senate passes Martin Lee Anderson claim after tense debate

The Florida Senate approved $4.8 million for the family of Martin Lee Anderson, a 14-year-old who died last January at a state-run boot camp, after a heated debate that revealed senators viewed the case very differently.

Lawmakers approved Sen. Mike Bennett's amendment, which stripped the bill of findings, including that the boot camp guards were directly responsible for the boy's death, because they said it convicted the guards and violated their right to due process.

"I believe this young man was murdered," said Sen. Alex Villalobos, a Miami Republican. "You can vote against this if you want, if you don't believe it happened."
"I believe it did."

Sen. Bill Posey, a Rockledge Republican, brought up drug charges against Anderson's mother and questioned the money going to the family. He responded to senators who had argued the boy's potential was that of Bill Gates or Senate President Ken Pruitt by saying he was a "shoplifter" and a "car thief."

"I don't think the boy was murdered. I don't think anybody intended to kill him," Posey said. "There’s about a half dozen reasons I would vote against this bill."

Posey did vote for the bill, along with 28 other senators, though apparently by mistake. Five senators voted against it. They were Carey Baker, Mike Bennett, Lisa Carlton, Alex Diaz de la Portilla, and Dan Webster, all Republicans.