Mike Schneider of the Associated Press is reporting that the trial of four members of Florida A&M’s marching band charged with felony hazing and manslaughter in the death of drum major Robert Champion has begun. In 2011, Champion died from hemorrhagic shock. His autopsy showed extensive internal bleeding from participating in a hazing ritual called, “crossing Bus C,” which has been popular in sports and politics. Fifteen students were charged in Champion’s death and all but four have had their cases settled. Some will testify for prosecutors.
“Darryl Cearnel, Aaron Golson, Benjamin McNamee and Dante Martin have pleaded not guilty. But a late challenge by the attorneys for Cearnel, Golson and McNamee about the inclusion of an additional hazing charge could delay trials for those defendants. Once it begins, the trial could last two weeks.
State Attorney Jeff Ashton said he wants jurors to learn about the history of hazing in FAMU’s marching band so they understand that what happened on the bus was a ‘consistent pattern.’
Besides ‘crossing Bus C,’ jurors likely will learn about other hazing rituals by band members. Those include ‘the hot seat,’ when band members sit in bus seats with heads between legs as other band members beat them, as well as ‘prepping’ when a shirtless band member is slapped on the back and chest.”
Prosecutors insist that the students knew they were breaking the law while defense attorneys contend that the state’s hazing laws are so vague that “Crossing Bus-C” doesn’t fit the legal definition.
Read more at ABC News.