Saturday, November 19, 2016

Convictions upheld in FAMU drum major death

TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Almost exactly five years after Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion died of injuries suffered in a hazing incident after a game in Orlando, a state appeals court Friday upheld the manslaughter and hazing convictions of another former member of the school’s “Marching 100” band.

A three-judge panel of the 5th District Court of Appeal, in a 16-page ruling, rejected arguments by attorneys for Dante Martin that Florida’s hazing law is overbroad and that a circuit judge made a series of errors such as refusing to exclude autopsy photos from the trial.

Martin, now 29, was found guilty of manslaughter, felony hazing resulting in death and two counts of misdemeanor hazing in the Nov. 19, 2011, death of Champion, who was injured in Orlando during a ritual known as “crossing Bus C.” During the ritual, band members were struck repeatedly as they crossed from the front of the bus to the back, and Martin was “president” of Bus C, Friday’s ruling said.

Champion, whose death drew national attention, passed out after finishing the crossing and later was pronounced dead at a hospital. Martin was sentenced to 77 months in prison after being found guilty by an Orange County jury and is an inmate at the Wakulla Work Camp, according to information on the state Department of Corrections website.


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