90.7 WMFE and 89.5 WMFV are Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming and Classical Music. Part of the community since 1965, providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

Florida Supreme Court Hears Appeal In FAMU Hazing Death

Image: Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee

Image: Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee

The Florida Supreme Court heard an appeal Wednesday for Dante Martin, who was convicted of manslaughter in the hazing death of a Florida A&M University band member.

Drum major Robert Champion died in 2011 in Orlando during a ritual that involved being beaten by a gauntlet of band members with belts, mallets and drum sticks.

Martin’s attorneys were appealing his conviction on the grounds that Florida’s hazing statue is unconstitutionally vague, and that participation in the ritual was voluntary.

Attorney Rupak Shah said the manslaughter conviction doesn’t hold if the ritual fits the state’s definition of competition instead of hazing.

“When it’s done in an activity, or conduct, or manner that has competitive features, then at that point it would sufficiently meet the criteria for a competition,” said Shah.

Shah offered boxing as an example. The state refuted that example, saying boxing is a structured sport with equal participation.

Assistant Attorney General Kristin Davenport focused her arguments on consent. “Consent is not a defense under this statute. This statute is trying to protect society from exactly this type of situation.”

More than a dozen former FAMU band members were charged in the death. Martin received the harshest sentence of more than six years.


Get The 90.7 WMFE Newsletter

Your trusted news source for the latest Central Florida news, updates on special programs and more.

Stay tuned in to our local news coverage: Listen to 90.7 WMFE on your FM or HD radio, the WMFE mobile app or your smart speaker — say “Alexa, play NPR” and you’ll be connected.

WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity

About Catherine Welch

Catherine Welch