FAMU Hazing: 13 Charged in Drum Major's Death

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on May 03, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

FAMU band member Robert Champion's hazing death has led to criminal charges against 13 people, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Eleven people are facing felony hazing charges, while others face misdemeanor charges in the homicide of Champion, 26, a drum major from DeKalb County, Ga., the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Champion endured severe beatings by fellow members of Florida A&M University's famed "Marching 100" band in a brutal hazing ritual aboard a chartered bus in November, prosecutors said. But the state's attorney on Wednesday declined to identify the students charged.

"This case is complicated," the prosecutor told reporters at a news conference announcing the FAMU hazing charges. Robert Champion's death "is not linked to one sole strike, but attributed to multiple blows."

One defendant is already in custody, and at least one other defendant is out of state, the prosecutor said, according to USA Today. Their names are not yet being released because the defendants live in "multiple jurisdictions" and have not yet been arrested, he said.

Evidence gathered in the case "does not support a charge of murder," the prosecutor said. But he called Champion's death "a homicide by hazing."

Under Florida law, a hazing that results in death or serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony. Even if Champion consented to the hazing, that's not a defense to the crime, according to the law.

If convicted of third-degree felony hazing, the defendants could face a possible five-year prison term.

A lawyer for Robert Champion's parents told the Sentinel they were disappointed the FAMU hazing charges weren't more serious. Champion's parents have already filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the charter bus driver who allegedly stood guard while the hazing allegedly occurred.

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