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Former FAMU Student Found Guilty In Hazing Death

A former FAMU student was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of Robert Champion, who was killed after a 2011 hazing incident.
Posted at 10:19 PM, Oct 31, 2014

A former student at Florida A&M University was convicted Friday in the 2011 hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion.

Twenty-seven-year-old Dante Martin was found guilty on one count of manslaughter and three hazing-related charges for organizing the hazing incident that lead to Champion's death. Martin's sentencing is on Jan. 9; he could face 22 years behind bars. (Video via WFTV)

Champion died of internal hemorrhaging after enduring the brutal FAMU hazing ritual "Crossing Bus C," which involves passing down a bus aisle through a gauntlet of kicks, punches, and blows from band equipment.

Martin's defense attempted to argue Crossing Bus C qualified as a competition rather than a hazing incident, citing the fact that the ritual had been around for decades before Champion's death.

But prosecuting attorney Jeff Ashton rejected that argument, telling the court, "You don't get to break the law because those who came before you did it. ... It is an example of what happens when decades of indifference and decades of fantasy lead us to ignore the law."

Despite efforts to stamp it out, hazing remains endemic in many schools. Martin's conviction comes amid recent revelations of several new student hazing scandals — including some on a high school level. 

As Champion's fellow drum major Keon Hollis told ESPN in 2012, hazing persists because students see it as a pathway to respect and solidarity, despite the physical suffering.

"Like me, he probably though, 'Ok, if I do Bus C, I'm going to get more respect from my band members. People that disrespect me, they're going to respect me because I did Bus C.'"

Several other students have pleaded guilty to lesser charges relating to Champion's death. Three more students involved in the incident have yet to stand trial.

This video includes images from Getty Images.