Trial Begins in Teen's Camp Death in Ariz.

New York Times/October 8, 2004

Phoenix -- A juvenile boot camp director went on trial Thursday in the death of a 14-year-old camper, with the prosecution describing the camp's harsh regimen and the defendant maintaining outside court that he will be exonerated.

"If the truth is allowed to be told in this courtroom, then I will be vindicated,'' Charles Long told The Associated Press following opening statements in the trial in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Long, director of the America's Buffalo Soldiers Re-enactors Association boot camp, is charged with second-degree murder in the July 2001 death of Anthony Haynes, who attended Long's "tough love'' camp near Buckeye.

Investigators said Haynes died of complications of dehydration and near-drowning after he collapsed in triple-digit heat and two counselors put him in a bathtub to cool him down.

Long is accused of telling the counselors to bring Haynes back to the camp rather than taking him to a hospital when he wasn't responding.

The 59-year-old ex-Marine is also facing an aggravated assault charge and eight child abuse charges that are not related to the Haynes case.

Long maintains the allegations against him are false.

"There are two sides to every story,'' he said.

The camp's regimen included wearing black uniforms in triple-digit temperatures, harsh discipline and a diet of apples, carrots and beef stew, said Deputy County Attorney Mark Barry.

The campers also had to sleep on cement slabs in sleeping bags in sweltering heat, Barry said.

Long's attorney, JoAnn Garcia, said the parents knew what the camp entailed and reviewed the diets the children were to be given.

"Many parents who were at their wits end ... ultimately turned to Mr. Long and said 'Help,''' Garcia said.

She said parents were given pamphlets that described the camp as a "no-nonsense, in-your-face, tough-love operation.''

The camp was shut down after the teen's death.

The trial is expected to last at least a month.

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