FAMU Hazing Suspect Enters No Contest Plea

By: Associated Press, Eyewitness News, Julie Montanaro Email
By: Associated Press, Eyewitness News, Julie Montanaro Email

Associated Press Release

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- A third defendant charged with the hazing death of a Florida A&M drum major has pleaded no contest in an Orlando courtroom. Caleb Jackson pleaded no contest to manslaughter and felony hazing today in Orange County court.


Associated Press Release

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- A third defendant charged with the hazing death of a Florida A&M drum major is pleading guilty in an Orlando courtroom.

Caleb Jackson's attorney says his client plans to plead guilty to manslaughter and felony hazing Tuesday at the Orange County Courthouse.

Jackson had been held in Leon County Jail on a violation of probation since his arrest.

FAMU drum major Robert Champion died in Orlando in November 2011 after he collapsed following what prosecutors say was a savage beating during a hazing ritual.

A dozen former Florida A&M band members have been charged with manslaughter and felony hazing.


By: Julie Montanaro

Tallahassee, FL - Caleb Jackson, former Marching 100 member accused in the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion was in court in Tallahassee this morning. Jackson's attorney says he intends to plead guilty to hazing and manslaughter and to testify against other band members in the case.
Jackson has been in jail since his arrest last May and was on probation for another crime at the time.

He'll be transported to Orlando and is expected to enter that plea in the next few weeks.


Associated Press Release

By MIKE SCHNEIDER

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- An attorney for one of the defendants in the hazing death of a Florida A&M drum major says his client is going to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors.

A lawyer for 24-year-old Caleb Jackson said at a court hearing Friday that his client will plead guilty to felony hazing and manslaughter.

Jackson currently is being held in Leon County Jail on a violation of probation and could enter the plea as soon as April.

Attorney Chuck Hobbs says Jackson has expressed remorse over what happened to drum major Robert Champion.

Champion died in Orlando in November 2011 after he collapsed following what prosecutors say was a savage beating during a hazing ritual.

A dozen former Florida A&M band members have been charged with manslaughter and felony hazing.


UPDATED 7.25.2012 by Julie Montanaro

A man accused in the hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion will have to remain behind bars until his trial.

Caleb Jackson is the only member of the Marching 100 still in jail. He was arrested on felony charges in May along with 10 others. Two more face misdemeanor charges.

Everyone else was freed on $15,000 bond, but Jackson was on probation at the time for a fight at TCC. So he's being held without bond.

Today his lawyer asked a judge to reconsider. He says Jackson has a family and a full time job waiting and called Jackson a critical and cooperating witness in the Champion case.

The judge said no.

"It appears that the leopard hasn't changed its spots, so I've got to be consistent. He violated his probation. He's not entitled to a bond. I'm not going to grant him a bond," Circuit Judge Frank Sheffield said.

"I wasn't surprised," defense attorney Chuck Hobbs said afterward. "Typically in VOP cases, individuals are not entitled to a bond but there are limited exceptions and I thought that case fell under one of those limited exceptions because of the fact that he has cooperated so far with law enforcement in Orlando in the Champion hazing case."

The Champion case is scheduled to go to trial in October. Jackson's lawyer is optomistic it won't be delayed.


Tallahassee, FL -- July 25, 2012 - Noon -

One of the men accused in the death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion will be in court on July 25th. Caleb Jackson is the only member of the Marching 100 still jailed since his arrest.

Jackson will go before a judge this afternoon. He's trying to get the judge to set a bond. Jackson was one of eleven band member arrested in May and accused of felony hazing in Champion's death. Everyone else was released on a $16,000 bond, but Jackson was on probation at the time so he is still being held without bond on that charge. His attorney will ask the judge to release him. The state is arguing against it.

Stay with WCTV for details.


Tallahassee, FL -- May 11, 2012

FAMU's Band Director Dr. Julian White resigned this afternoon, after stories about FAMU band members not being enrolled at the university began to surface. One hundred and one members of the FAMU band were not enrolled in school at the time of a Drum Majors Hazing death.

When FAMU percussionist Caleb Jackson had his first appearance on felony hazing charges, he told the judge he could make bail because he had a job.

What Jackson and two others charged in the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion did not have was a class schedule. The three were not enrolled in classes, which is a violation of University policy.

"To be issued a uniform, students have to bring a copy of their class schedule here, to the Department of Music. The problem is that no one in the registrar's office or the Dean's office bothered to check to see if the student was actually enrolled."

Band Director Julian White, retired Thursday. He says it was not his job to check beyond the class schedule. A 1998 memo specifies it is the duty of the Dean to check enrollment status.

In a letter to University Trustees, FAMU President James Ammons says 51 band members and one cheerleader who made the fatal trip to Orlando were not enrolled in school during the fall. All received per diem from the University to make the trip. Gretl Plessinger with the Department of Law Enforcement says those payments are now part of the investigation.

"We are looking into per diems claimed by individuals as part of the band trips," says Gretl Plessinger with FDLE.

A decision on whether the band comes back in the Fall is expected soon.


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