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Ex-FAMU band members charged with manslaughter

3:01 PM, Mar 4, 2013   |    comments
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By John Bacon, USA TODAY

ORLANDO, Fla. - Twelve former members of the famed Florida A&M marching band face charges of manslaughter in the 2011 death of drum major Robert Chamption, prosecutors said Monday.

The Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office sent an e-mail to attorneys for 10 former band members at the Tallahassee school, notifying them that each would be charged with manslaughter in addition to felony hazing charges they already faced, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Two additional defendants also have been charged, the Associated Press said.

The 10 had been charged with hazing, a third-degree felony, last spring. The Sentinelsaid it was not immediately clear why State Attorney Jeff Ashton decided to upgrade charges.

The felony hazing charges had drawn complaints from Champion's family, who said more severe charges were called for.

Champion, 26, died in November 2011 after enduring a hazing ritual conducted by other band members on a bus outside a hotel in Orlando where Florida A&M had played its archrival, Bethune Cookman, in football.

His death revealed a culture of hazing in the band, which has performed at Super Bowls and presidential inauguration parades. An autopsy concluded Champion suffered blunt trauma blows to his body and died from shock caused by severe bleeding.

Champion's parents have said their son was a vocal opponent of the routine hazing in the band. They said last year that they were having a hard time believing their son volunteered to be hazed.

"He was murdered on that bus, and no one signs up for that," Pam Champion said.

Contributing: Donna Leinwand Leger



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