FAMU Hazing Trial

By Julie Montanaro
September 14, 2006, 5:30 pm

Five FAMU fraternity brothers will go to trial for hazing later this month. Thursday morning a judge refused to drop the charges, meaning Florida's first felony hazing case is soon headed to court.

Attorneys for five Kappa Alpha Psi brothers were in court trying to have felony hazing charges thrown out. The judge said no, a jury should decide.

Prosecutor Frank Allman said, "I don't know if both Mr. Jones and his father will be testifying."

Allman added, "They're both listed as witnesses and I expect them to, if they testify, to tell us what occurred and then hopefully that'll be enough to prove our case to the jury."

The five fraternity brothers are accused of beating pledge Marcus Jones so badly last spring that he passed out and would ultimately be hospitalized for his injuries.

Defense attorneys contend Jones was blindfolded and can't identify the men who beat him, and they claim the hazing statute doesn't clearly define the term "great bodily harm" anyway.

Defense attorney Richard Keith Alan said, "I believe all of the defense attorneys feel confident that they won't be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt who actually hit the young man, but nevertheless if we move past the issue of ID, the issue of serious bodily injury is key to the case."

Judge Kathleen Dekker promptly ruled that jurors will decide for themselves, in the jury box. Following that ruling, defense attorney Chuck Hobbs said.

"They're looking very much forward to being able to go into court and have a jury of their peers decide whether they are innocent or guilty and they continue to maintain their innocence."

Another development Thursday, prosecutors decided not to pursue charges involving a second victim Narie Davidson, but would not specify why. The hazing trial is set to begin September 25.