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UPDATE: Former FAMU band member she was shunned for avoiding hazing

Robert Champion

Former FAMU bandmember Robert Champion died after a hazing ritual in Orlando in 2011.

A former Florida A&M University band member says she submitted to a ritual prosecutors describe as hazing because she felt shunned for not doing it.

The testimony came Wednesday in the trial of another former band member charged in the 2011 death of drum major Robert Champion.

Champion died of hemorrhagic shock after he was beaten by other band members during a ritual known as “crossing Bus C.”

Lissette Sanchez also went through the ritual that same night. She said she and her friends didn’t want to do it, but they felt shunned if they didn’t.

“It was kind of like your best friend not talking to you anymore. It seemed like nobody looked at you the same. So that’s what kind of drove us to go back and do it.”

Dante Martin is accused of leading the ritual. He’s charged with manslaughter and hazing in Champion’s death. He was one of 15 students charged. Most have had their cases settled.

The band was in Orlando for the Florida Classic football game.

Defense attorneys argue “crossing Bus C” was not hazing under the state’s anti-hazing law because no one required band members to do it and it didn’t influence their advancement in the band.

Jonathan Boyce was the band’s top drum major at the time. He testified he believed what happened to Champion was a crime under the state’s anti-hazing law.

Boyce said that years before he had submitted to the same ritual. He said he did it because it was fun. Orange and Osceola County State Attorney Jeff Ashton asked what about it was fun.

“The process is not fun, but just being a part of the guys.”

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Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s ... Read Full Bio »