The alleged ringleader of a group of Florida A&M University marching band students who beat drum major Robert Champion Jr. in a 2011 hazing incident was convicted Friday of multiple charges related to Champion’s death, according to CNNaffiliate CFN13, which was in the courtroom when the verdict was read.
A jury found former band member Dante Martin, 27, guilty of manslaughter and felony hazing after just an hour of deliberations, charges that could carry a sentence of more than 20 years in prison.
“Mr. Martin having been found guilty as charged, you are adjudicated guilty on these counts, on all four counts of the information as charged. You are remanded to the custody of the Orange County sheriff to be taken to the Orange County jail,” Circuit Judge Renee Roche said as she delivered the jury’s verdict in the case.
“I won’t get my son back, but no one wins here. So there should be sadness all the way around for everyone, and we hope and pray to continue our mission to eradicate hazing — to end it,” Champion’s mother, Pamela Champion, told CNN affiliate WFTV.
Champion, 26 of Decatur, Georgia, died after a band hazing ritual in which he was beaten aboard a school bus after a football game in Orlando, Florida. The initiation requires pledges to run down the center of the bus while being punched, kicked and assaulted by senior members, band members have said.