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Former FAMU Band Member Found Guilty of Manslaughter in Hazing Death

Dante Martin was found guilty of manslaughter and hazing in the 2011 death of 26-year old Robert Champion.
Image: Robert Champion
Florida A&M Marching 100 Drum Major Robert Champion during a performance at halftime of the game against Howard University at Bragg Memorial Stadium on Oct. 8, 2011 in Tallahassee, Florida. Champion became ill and died after a game on November 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Don Juan Moore)Don Juan Moore / ASSOCIATED PRESS

A former Florida A&M University band member was found guilty Friday of manslaughter and three hazing counts in the 2011 death of a drum major.

Dante Martin now faces up to fifteen years in prison for the death of 26-year-old Robert Champion during a hazing ritual nearly three years ago. The trial lasted less than a week, and the jury deliberated for a little over an hour.

Prosecutors called eight witnesses during their case, which began on Monday, including former band members who were present when Champion was beaten with fists and drum sticks during the ritual called "Crossing Bus C." The defense did not call any witnesses, and Martin declined to testify, according to The Associated Press. The defense argued that Martin's actions did not meet the definition of hazing, but rather competition, due to Florida's somewhat vague hazing law.

Eleven former band members have had their cases settled. Three other band members were scheduled to begin trial on Monday, but defense attorneys entered a late challenge to an additional hazing charge. Champion's family was present in the courtroom every day of the trial, according to NBC affiliate WESH.


— Elisha Fieldstadt, with The Associated Press