Friday in Florida, percussionist Dante Martin, who had attended Florida A&M University and was a member of the school’s Marching 100 band, was convicted in his part of being the ringleader of a hazing ritual that brought about the death of drum major, Robert Champion, 26, in November 2011.
Dante Martin, 27, was convicted in the first case of its kind involving a person being persecuted for manslaughter and felony hazing. The incident, arrest and trial brought national and worldwide attention to the often dangerous hazing rituals that take place at some of America’s institutions of higher learning.
Robert Champion’s mother, Pamela Champlin, wants the people who were behind the hazing ritual that ended her son’s life “to pay for what he has done.” She added that “No one wins here.”
The Florida A&M University Marching Band is renowned, and has appeared at the Grammy Awards, during presidential inaugurations, at the super Bowl and is internationally recognized for being an excellent college marching band. The band received an official suspension of over a year and a half, making it return to the football field in the fall of 2013.
After the conviction of Dante Martin, who is the first of 14 band members who will stand trail for the death of Robert Champlin, Martin was placed into handcuffs and will be held in prison pending his sentencing on January 9, 2014. According to former state prosecutor state prosecutor David Weinstein, Dante Martin faces a minimum of 9 years and a maximum of 22 years in jail.
Reportedly, the lawyers of Dante Martin will seek a mistrial. Next year, three other former band members charged in the hazing death of will go on trial. Nine band members who made plea deals have received probation and have had to take part in community service programs. One band member was sentenced to nearly a year in jail.
Written By Douglas Cobb