The first of 12 former Florida A&M University band members facing felony charges in the hazing death of a drum major has been sentenced to community service and probation after an Orange County judge said he played only a minor role in the hazing death of Robert Champion.
Brian Jones will spend the next six months under community control, which means he’ll be under close supervision and will have to make frequent check-ins with probation officials. After that, he’ll be on probation for two years and have to perform 200 hours of community service.
As a condition of his probation, he’ll either have to be enrolled in school or working full time. He’ll also have to attend a hazing class.
Jones first pleaded not guilty to 3rd degree felony hazing, then switched his plea to no contest after Orange County Judge Marc Lubet said Jones did not beat or hit Champion.
The drum major died in November after being beaten in a hazing ritual aboard a bus in Orlando following a football game.
Eleven other former band members still face 3rd degree felony hazing charges which carry a penalty of up to five years in prison and a five-thousand dollar fine. One person has been charged with a misdemeanor in the case.
Meanwhile, Champion’s parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Florida A&M University. The family alleges the school knew about hazing in the band but failed to act. FAMU has responded to the suit by saying Champion signed an anti-hazing form and that the school is not responsible for his death.
Update 4:27 pm: Brian Jones will spend the next two years under probation and will have to perform 200 hours of community service, which includes a hazing class. He'll also have to spend six months under community control where he'll be monitored by probation officers. During his probation, Jones will have to be enrolled in school or working full time.
Former Florida A&M University student and Marching 100 band member Brian Jones has been sentenced to two years probation and 200 hours of community service.
Jones, a 23-year-old from Parrish, entered a no-contest plea Oct. 9 after initially pleading not guilty.
In agreeing to the plea deal, Lubet said Jones' role in the hazing death of Robert Champion was relatively minimal. Lubet said Jones did not beat or hit Champion.
Champion died in November after being beaten by fellow band members during a hazing ritual aboard a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel after a football game.
Eleven other FAMU band members face felony hazing charges. Another band member faces a misdemeanor count for hazing.
An investigation started by the Florida Board of Governors into FAMU's handling of Champion's death is ongoing. The board is expected to hear the findings in its November meeting.
In the aftermath of Champion's death, the university has held seminars on hazing, has called on all students to sign anti-hazing pledges and created a website where students can report hazing activities anonymously.
The school has also re-instituted a zero-tolerance policy that resulted in the suspension of two campus clubs for allegations of hazing. They have been reinstated after independent investigations by the Tallahassee Police Department did not find evidence to support charges.
A wrongful death lawsuit against FAMU over Champion's death is ongoing, and it's Marching 100 band remains under suspension.
Please check back later on for more updates to this story.
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