12 former Florida A&M University marching band members have been charged with manslaughter in the death of Robert Champion.
Chapman, 26, died following a football game in November of 2011. In the aftermath of his death, the university president left his job as did the band leader. The marching band also was suspended.
10 of the 12 band members hit with the manslaughter charge had already been charged with felony hazing, reports the LA Times. That charge carries a maximum of five years in prison whereas the new charge of felony manslaughter can result in up to 15 years behind bars. The two new defendants in the case are Henry Nesbitt, 26, and Darryl Cearnel, 25.
Champion died from hemorrhagic shock. He was participating in a ritual known as “crossing Bus C.” During the ritual, Champion had to move past a gauntlet of fellow band members who assaulted him with their fists and their drumsticks. The blunt-force trauma caused by the barrage of attacks resulted in his death.
The State University System of Florida criticized Florida A&M University for failing to deal with earlier reports of hazing in a report that it commissioned in December. Florida A&M is facing a wrongful death suit from Champion’s family. The school offered the Champions a $300,000 settlement offer. The offer was rejected.
The Champion family's attorney, Christopher Chestnut, was pleased that the state had decided to bring the more serious manslaughter charge against the defendants. He said the hazing charges were "a slap on the wrist and basically an endorsement to continue the practice."
The trial will probably be a lengthy one. There are more than 100 people on the witness list, meaning that both sides will need a long time to prepare and testimonies could take quite a while.
Source: (LA Times)