Former FAMU Band Member Convicted

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News Release: Associated Press
October 31, 2014

Former FAMU band member convicted of manslaughter in drum major's hazing death.


News Release: Associated Press
October 31, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Attorneys are set to give closing arguments in the case of a former Florida A&M University band member charged with manslaughter and hazing in the death of a drum major who was beaten on a band bus during a hazing ritual.

Once they're finished, Judge Renee Roche will give the jurors final instructions and deliberations could begin sometime Friday.

Prosecutors called eight witnesses, including former band members who identified 27-year Dante Martin as orchestrator of the ritual known as "crossing Bus C" after a football game in Orlando in 2011.

Robert Champion of Decatur, Georgia, died following the ritual that involved his fellow musicians kicking and pummeling him with fists and drumsticks.

The defense presented no witnesses and Martin declined to testify. He faces up to 15 years in prison.


News Release: Associated Press
October 30, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Defense attorneys are expected to begin presenting their case in the manslaughter and hazing trial of a former Florida A&M University band member charged in the death of a drum major.

Dante Martin's attorneys could begin their case midday Wednesday. State attorney Jeff Ashton told Judge Renee Roche late Tuesday that the medical examiner who examined Robert Champion should be his eighth and final witness.

Champion died in 2011 from injuries sustained during a ritual known as "crossing Bus C," which involved running down a gauntlet aboard a parked bus while getting kicked, punched and hit with band instruments. Martin is charged with manslaughter and hazing in the incident.

Judge Renee Roche is also expected to announce whether she'll allow a pair of defense experts to testify.


News Release: Associated Press
October 29, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Two former band members who were on the bus the night a Florida A&M University drum major was fatally beaten during a hazing ritual identified Dante Martin as the ring leader of the events.

Former band member Lizette Sanchez testified Wednesday that Martin decided who was allowed to participate in the "crossing Bus C" rituals. She said she was seeking a reprieve from being shunned by others who'd gone through it previously, and completed the ritual shortly before Robert Champion of Decatur, Georgia, in November 2011.

Champion died from injuries sustained during the ritual, which involved getting kicked and punched. Martin is charged with manslaughter and hazing.

Also on Wednesday morning, Jonathan Boyce described witnessing Champion collapse shortly after the ritual, which followed a football game in Orlando.


News Release: Associated Press
October 27, 2014

The trials of three of four members of Florida A&M University's marching band on charges of felony hazing and manslaughter have been postponed until April.

But the trial of a fourth member began with jury selection Monday, nearly three years after drum major Robert Champion died from being beaten.

Judge Renee Roche delayed the trial for defendants Benjamin McNamee, Aaron Golson and Darryl Cearnel after their attorneys said they did not have the opportunity to question witnesses about hazing charges that were added to the case.


News Release: Associated Press
October 27, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- A judge has postponed the cases of three of the four remaining defendants facing charges in the death of a Florida A&M drum major.

Judge Renee Roche delayed the trial Monday at the request of attorneys for defendants Benjamin McNamee, Aaron Golson and Darryl Cearnel. They say they haven't had the opportunity to question witnesses about hazing charges that were added to the case. Their trials are now set for April.

The trial of Dante Martin began as scheduled Monday with jury selection and is expected to last a week.

All have pleaded not guilty.

The trial comes almost three years after drum major Robert Champion, of Decatur, Georgia, died from during what authorities say was a hazing ritual in November 2011.

Champion's death led to the FAMU band's more than one-year suspension and contributed to the resignation of FAMU's president.


News Release: Associated Press
October 27, 2014

The trial of four members of Florida A&M University's marching band on charges of felony hazing and manslaughter is scheduled to start today.

Nearly three years after drum major Robert Champion died from being beaten.

His death has shone a spotlight on a hazing ritual at FAMU known as "crossing Bus C" and caused the band to be suspended for over a year.

It also contributed to the resignation of the university's president.


News Release: Associated Press
October 23, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- A plea deal that was contemplated by one of the four defendants facing trial next week for the hazing death of a Florida A & M drum major is off the table.

An attorney for Benjamin McNamee told Judge Rene Roche on Wednesday that his client would consider a plea deal if it could be done before the judge who had handled the case previously.

Judge Marc Lubet had the case before Roche took it over, but he nixed the idea and so it is now off the table.

Fifteen defendants were charged originally in the hazing death of Robert Champion of Decatur, Georgia.

All but four defendants have had their cases settled. A majority received sentences of probation or community service.


News Release: Associated Press
October 22, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Defense attorneys for the four Florida A&M band members charged in a drum major's death are going before a judge to ask that the word "hazing" not be allowed to be used at their trial next week.

Defense attorneys on Wednesday also are hoping the judge reconsiders their challenge to Florida's hazing law. They say it's so vague that what happened on the band bus can be considered a competition, not hazing.

Judge Rene Roche already has denied a motion asking that the law be ruled unconstitutional, but she allowed defense attorneys to file a new challenge.

Fifteen former band members were charged with manslaughter and hazing in the November 2011 death of Robert Champion, of Decatur, Georgia. All but the four remaining defendants have had their cases settled.


Update: Associated Press
October 14, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Was the hazing death of a Florida A& M drum major part of a competition?

Defense attorneys for four FAMU band members charged with Robert Champion's death are making a case that Florida's anti-hazing law is so vague that what happened to Champion wasn't hazing but part of a contest.

The defense attorneys on Tuesday asked a judge for a hearing challenging the anti-hazing law.

Circuit Judge Rene Roche set a hearing a week before the defendants' Oct. 27 trial.

Fifteen former band members were charged with manslaughter and hazing in the November 2011 death of Champion, of Decatur, Georgia. All but the four remaining defendants have had their cases settled.

Champion died after a running aboard a parked bus through a gauntlet of band members who hit him.


Update: Associated Press
September 9, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The Orlando trial of the four remaining defendants charged in the hazing death of a Florida A&M University drum major has been postponed until October.

Defense attorneys and prosecutor Jeff Ashton agreed Tuesday to reschedule the start of the trial to Oct. 27.

The trial had originally been set for later this month, but attorneys had scheduling conflicts.

Fifteen former band members were charged with manslaughter and hazing in the November 2011 death of Robert Champion of Decatur, Georgia. Eight accepted plea deals of community service and probation for what prosecutors called minor roles. The state dropped charges against one former defendant, and another has pleaded but not yet to be sentenced.

Jessie Baskin pleaded no contest to manslaughter and was sentenced to a year in jail in March.


News Release: Associated Press
September 9, 2014

Attorneys for four remaining defendants charged in the hazing death of a Florida A&M University drum major are due back in court to update a judge on whether they're ready for trial.

The hearing is set for Tuesday morning. Attorneys for three defendants asked Judge Renee Roche for a continuance in June, citing difficulty taking depositions of potential prosecution witnesses.

Fifteen former band members were charged with manslaughter and hazing in the November 2011 death of Robert Champion of Decatur, Georgia. Eight accepted plea deals of community service and probation for what prosecutors called minor roles. The state dropped charges against one former defendant, and another has pleaded but not yet to be sentenced.

Jessie Baskin pleaded no contest to manslaughter and was sentenced to a year in jail in March.



 
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