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UPDATE: A guilty verdict in FAMU hazing trial

Robert Champion

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

A former Florida A&M band member has been found guilty of manslaughter in the death of drum major Robert Champion.

A jury Friday also found Dante Martin guilty of hazing.

Champion died in Orlando in 2011 after taking part in a ritual known as “crossing Bus C,” in which he was beaten by fellow band members.

His mother Pam Champion spoke to reporters after the verdict outside the Orange County courtroom. She said she felt grief for Champion and Martin.

“There’s no reason to celebrate. There’s no reason to be joyful,” she said. “Right now I don’t have any tears. But those tears — they will come I can guarantee you — will not only be for my son but for this young man.”

Defense attorney Richard Escobar earlier told jurors what happened to Champion was senseless and foolish, but it wasn’t a crime under the state’s hazing law.

He argued the ritual sprang from a culture of competition within the band.

“Just about every facet of the teachings of the Marching 100 was competitive. You had to compete in order to be a national treasure.”

Escobar said the ritual was created by past band leaders, not Martin.

Martin was one of 15 students charged. Most have had their cases settled.

 


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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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