FAMU Hazing Defendant Sent to Prison for VOP

By: Associated Press News; Julie Montanaro Email
By: Associated Press News; Julie Montanaro Email
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UPDATED
By Julie Montanaro
March 3, 2014

One of the Marching 100 members arrested and accused in the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion has been in jail ever since.

He was out on probation for another crime at the time and today the judge didn't mince any words before sending him to prison.

"I never knew he was going to be on the bus," Caleb Jackson told the judge Monday. Jackson tried to convince the judge he had accepted responsibility for his role in death of drum major Robert Champion who died during a hazing ritual called "Crossing Bus C."

"When Robert went through I never touched him," Jackson said.

Our cameras were rolling the day Jackson was arrested in the hazing death of Robert Champion. He walked into the Leon County Jail that day in May 2012 and has been behind bars ever since.

He was already on probation for another felony charge in the wake of a fight at Tallahassee Community College.

"Unfortuntely, a year after he's sentenced in one, he's involved in a violent offense where somebody is dead. Dead," said Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford. "Somebody has to die for you to learn you lesson?"

Jackson faced between 18 months and 5 years in prison for violating his probation. Judge Jackie Fulford sentenced him to 4 years with credit for the nearly two years he's been behind bars already.

Jackson's attorney Chuck Hobbs had asked the judge to sentence him to time served.

"The only violation that he had was being chargedon the murder and hazing case down in Orlando, so she had to consider those facts also," Hobbs said afterward.

Jackson has entered a no contest plea to charges in Champion's death. He has yet to be sentenced for that.

He has agreed to testify against six other band members who are awaiting trial in Orlando.

"The next thing I'm worried about is the Orlando case," his fiance Jasmine Alexander said. "I want him home. His daughter needs him just as well as I do."


Updated By: Julie Montanaro
March 3, 2014, 2:45pm

Caleb Jackson - who has been jailed on a probation violation since his arrest in the hazing death of Robert Champion - is in court.

The judge has sentenced him to 48 months in prison with credit for the 731 days he has already served in jail for violating his probation.


Associated Press Release
By KYLE HIGHTOWER

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The remaining six defendants charged in the hazing death of a former Florida A&M drum major are set to appear in court.

A status hearing is slated for Friday morning. The six former FAMU band members face manslaughter and hazing charges in the November 2011 death of Robert Champion.

Their cases were advanced on the trial docket late last year, but their attorneys continue to discuss possible pleas.

Fifteen former band members were charged in Champion's death.

Eight have accepted deals, with seven already sentenced to combinations of probation and community service. Another, Caleb Jackson, pleaded no contest to manslaughter in April, but has yet to be sentenced.

Champion's death led to personnel and policy changes at FAMU, and a yearlong suspension of the band that was lifted in 2013.


Associated Press Release
By KYLE HIGHTOWER

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Two more former band members charged in the hazing death of a Florida A&M drum major have accepted plea deals from prosecutors.

Harold Finley pleaded guilty to felony hazing Wednesday in relation to Robert Champion's November 2011 death. In exchange, prosecutors dropped manslaughter and misdemeanor hazing charges against him.

Finley was sentenced to four years of probation, 100 hours of community service, and must complete a hazing course. Prosecutor Jeff Ashton told the judge that Finley participated in the hazing of another band member the night Champion died, but was only present for Champion's hazing.

Another former band member, Jessie Baskin, pleaded no contest to manslaughter. He faces up to nine years in prison when he's sentenced in February.

Six remaining defendants scheduled their cases set for trial, but will continue to discuss possible pleas with the prosecutors.


Associated Press News Release

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Eight defendants who remain charged in the hazing death of a Florida A&M drum major are scheduled to have a status hearing on their cases and are expected to tell a judge whether they will accept plea offers from the prosecutor or proceed to trial.

The hearing is set for Wednesday afternoon. It has been postponed twice since former Judge Marc Lubet said in August that the next hearing would be the deadline to accept deals, some of which include jail time.

Fifteen former band members were charged with manslaughter and hazing in the November 2011 death of Robert Champion.

Six have accepted plea deals that included community service and probation for what prosecutors said were minor roles. A seventh is awaiting sentencing.


Associated Press News Release
By KYLE HIGHTOWER

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Eight defendants who remain charged in the hazing death of a Florida A&M drum major won't tell a judge until later this month whether they will accept plea offers or go to trial.

They were expected to update a judge Friday on the statuses of plea talks with prosecutors. That hearing has been rescheduled for Oct. 25. Judge Marc Lubet said in August that Friday would be a "drop dead date" to accept those deals, some of which include jail time.

Fifteen former band members were charged with manslaughter and hazing in Robert Champion's November 2011 death. Six have accepted plea deals that included community service and probation for what prosecutors said were minor roles. A seventh is awaiting sentencing.

Champion died after he collapsed following a hazing ritual.


Associated Press News Release
By KYLE HIGHTOWER

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Eight defendants who remain charged in the hazing death of a FAMU drum major are set to appear in court for a status hearing on their cases.

They are expected to tell a judge Friday whether they will accept plea offers from the prosecutor or move to trial. Judge Marc Lubet said in August that Friday would be a "drop dead date" to accept those deals, some of which include jail time.

Fifteen former band members were charged with manslaughter and hazing in Robert Champion's November 2011 death. Six defendants have accepted plea deals that included community service and probation for what prosecutors said were minor roles. A seventh is awaiting sentencing.

Champion died after he collapsed from what prosecutors says was a savage beating during a hazing ritual.


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