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Former Band Member Gets 6-Year Sentence in FAMU Hazing Death


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Robert Champion

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

A former Florida A&M University band member has been sentenced to more than six years in prison in the 2011 hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.

Dante Martin was convicted last October of manslaughter and hazing.

In Orlando Friday he was sentenced to 77 months jail.

Martin’s attorneys had asked for leniency because they said Champion voluntarily participated in the ritual that led to his death.

During the hearing Martin took to the stand to apologize to the Champion family.

“Sometimes in life we just go with what is tradition,” said Martin. “We don’t second-guess it. We don’t doubt it.”

Champion died during a ritual known as, “Crossing Bus C.” It involved facing a gauntlet of band members on a bus who beat him with belts, mallets and drum sticks.

After the hearing Pam Champion said she would continue seeking justice for her son.

“But to be perfectly honest with you I don’t expect it,” she said. “So my focus now is trying to help other parents and mothers and families that have to deal with what we’re dealing with to stop it.”

Martin was one of 15 former band members charged. Most have had their cases settled. Three more face trial this year.

Martin’s attorneys say they plan to appeal.


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Amy Green

About Amy Green

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Amy Green covers the environment for 90.7 News. She is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a regular contributor for NPR, PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and many other top news organizations. Her in-progress book on the Everglades is under contract with Johns ... Read Full Bio »

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