A former member of Florida A&M University’s marching band was found guilty of manslaughter for a fatal hazing incident. Dante Martin, 27, faces up to 15 years in prison for the death of Robert Champion, who was beaten to death by team members during a hazing ritual known as “Crossing Bus C” in 2011.
The trial in Orlando took less than a week and the jury deliberated for just over an hour, reported the Associated Press.
State Attorney Jeff Ashton argued that the traditional roots of hazing practices in the marching band, known as the Marching 100, don’t excuse members from responsibility for Champion’s death.
“Tradition didn’t kill Robert Champion,” he said, according to the Orlando Sentinel.”You don’t get to break the law because those who came before you did it.”
Martin, 27, reportedly showed no emotion when Circuit Judge Renee Roche read the verdict, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Three other band members will begin their own trials on Monday, and 11 former band members have already settled their cases. One band member, Brian Jones, was charged with hazing last week and was sentenced to two years of probation and six months of community control.
The incident sparked public outrage against hazing practices, and the school’s president, James Ammons, resigned seven months later.
After the verdict, Champion's family said they would pray for Martin and his family. "We hope that people will get the message that hazing is cruel ... and it needs to stop now," said Champion's mother.