Prosecutors today released hundreds of pages of evidence in the hazing death of Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion.
The evidence includes the probable-cause affidavit, which was used to issue warrants for the arrests of 11 fellow band members accused of participating in the hazing ritual after which Champion collapsed and died.
The documents were released as a result of the discovery process, which requires prosecutors to turn over evidence to defense lawyers.
Champion, 26, who was in line to become the lead drum major for FAMU’s famed Marching 100, was pummeled to death Nov. 19 during a hazing ritual on a band bus that was parked outside the Rosen Plaza hotel in Orlando, State Attorney Lawson Lamar said..
The medical examiner concluded Champion died of hemorrhagic shock caused by blunt-force trauma.
Eleven band members, including fellow drum majors Jonathan Boyce, Shawn Turner and Rikki Wills, are charged with felony hazing resulting in Champion’s death. If convicted, they could be sentenced to five years in prison.
The iconic marching band, a moneymaker for FAMU, Florida’s largest historically black university, had performed that afternoon during halftime of the 66thFlorida Classic, a football game played annually at the Citrus Bowl.
Champion’s death also has led to the suspension of the band for the 2012-13 school year; the sudden retirement of band director Dr. Julian White, 71, who insisted he tried in vain to stop hazing; and a notice filed by a lawyer for Champion’s parents that the family plans to sue the university.
Christopher Chestnut, the parents’ lawyer, said university leaders have been unwilling or unable to stop hazing despite repeated complaints from parents and costly incidents in which band members were paddled so violently they suffered kidney injuries.
In addition to the retirement of White, who led the band from 1998 until this month, FAMU recently dismissed two music professors who were at a Kappa Kappa Psi band fraternity party where hazing occurred in 2010.
Enrollment at FAMU has sagged in wake of the tragedy, but officials have blamed the economy.
The band totaled more than 450 members last fall, included more than 100 people who were not eligible because they were not enrolled in a required band course. About 60 of those ineligible band members traveled to Orlando aboard band buses for the annual football game, which is a major fundraiser for the school.
Two are among those charged in Champion’s death.Referenced from Orlando