The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Print Edition
Letter to the editor submissions
Have a strong opinion about something happening on campus or in Fort Collins? Want to respond to an article written on The Collegian? Write a Letter to the Editor by following the guidelines here.
Follow Us on Twitter
African American female student studying from home during lockdown
Pediatric NP Online Programs: Alleviating Gaps in Colorado's Healthcare System
April 10, 2024

In Colorado's intricate healthcare sector, the provision of specialized care to its pediatric population remains a challenge. Pediatric Nurse...

Three ex-FAMU students sentenced to 10 years’ probation in fatal hazing case

Dante Martin, right, a former member of Florida A&M University's Marching 100 band, looks at his family as he is fingerprinted Friday, Oct. 31,2014 after being found guilty of manslaughter in the fatal hazing of drum major Robert Champion. Martin, who faces up to 22 years in prison, showed no emotion as Circuit Judge Renee Roche read the verdict. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/MCT)
Dante Martin, right, a former member of Florida A&M University’s Marching 100 band, looks at his family as he is fingerprinted Friday, Oct. 31,2014 after being found guilty of manslaughter in the fatal hazing of drum major Robert Champion. Martin, who faces up to 22 years in prison, showed no emotion as Circuit Judge Renee Roche read the verdict. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/MCT)

ORLANDO, Fla. — State Attorney Jeff Ashton wanted to send a harsh message Friday during the sentencing hearing of three former members of Florida A&M University Marching Band convicted in the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.

But Circuit Judge Renee A. Roche, in determining their sentences, had other considerations:

Ad

First, she said, Champion willingly participated in the ritual that ended his life that November evening in 2011.

Second, the young men convicted of manslaughter and hazing in April will have to live with felony records for the rest of their lives.

Finally, Roche said, it was important to balance their sentences against the other nine former FAMU band members charged in the case.

Most were given probation.

At the end of the day Friday, so were Aaron Golson, Benjamin McNamee and Darryl Cearnel. All received 10 years’ probation.

“The court recognizes that perhaps Mr. Champion had thoughts or philosophical objections or reservations about this conduct, but there was no evidence of that presented in this case,” Roche said prior to handing down the sentences.

“To the contrary, the evidence was that he went to the bus on his own, that he responded affirmatively when he was asked if he was sure repeatedly, and there was no external pressure for him to participate.”

Ashton asked for the minimum sentence, 9 1/2 years in prison. After the hearing, he would not comment.

Champion, 26, was killed after participating in a ritual known as Crossing Bus C, in which band members hit, kicked and punched him as he made his way down the aisle of a parked charter bus.

Ad

Champion’s parents have challenged whether their son voluntarily boarded the bus after performing in the Florida Classic game between FAMU and Bethune-Cookman University.

“There is no real documented proof,” Champion’s mother, Pam, testified in court Friday. “What you’ve heard has been said over and over and over again by the people who killed him. Check your source.”

Roche told the families she reached her decision by also weighing the fact that “the brand of felony on these young men is a substantial punishment that perhaps can never be undone.”

Members of the defendants’ families, who filled the courtroom to offer character statements on behalf of the men, broke into tears after Roche announced that none of them would be going to prison.

“I am just thankful — I am thankful for my son and the other defendants,” said McNamee’s mother, Sharri Dean-Collins. “Of course, I pray for Mrs. Champion and Mr. Champion, that they will continue to find peace. I still want us to join hands and fight (hazing) together because there is so much to be done.”

In January, Roche sentenced the accused ringleader of the ritual, 28-year-old Dante Martin, 6 1/2 years in prison after a jury trial. She gave him a harsher sentence because he orchestrated the event, she said.

Jessie Baskin, another former FAMU band member, was sentenced to nearly a year in jail. The state is appealing that sentence. Baskin has since been released from jail.

Caleb Jackson, who pleaded no contest to a manslaughter charge, has not yet been sentenced.

Briefs Courtesy of Tribune News Service

View Comments (7)
More to Discover

Comments (7)

When commenting on The Collegian’s website, please be respectful of others and their viewpoints. The Collegian reviews all comments and reserves the right to reject comments from the website. Comments including any of the following will not be accepted. 1. No language attacking a protected group, including slurs or other profane language directed at a person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, physical or mental disability, ethnicity or nationality. 2. No factually inaccurate information, including misleading statements or incorrect data. 3. No abusive language or harassment of Collegian writers, editors or other commenters. 4. No threatening language that includes but is not limited to language inciting violence against an individual or group of people. 5. No links.
All The Rocky Mountain Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *