Authorities file charges in FAMU band drum major hazing death

May 1, 2012

Update: 4:50 pm:   The Leon County Sheriff's office says they've taken two people into custody in connection with the Champion case.  They are 23-year-old Caleb Jackson and 24-year-old Ricky Wills. Both are charged with felony hazing relating in death.

Update 2:20 pm 5/2:  13 people are facing charges in the hazing-death of Robert Champion. State Attorney Lawrence Lamar says even more people could still be charged. Those individuals will face third-degree felonies under Florida's anti-hazing law. If convicted, they could face up to 6 years in prison.

Update 12:53 pm 5/2:   The attorney for FAMU Band Director Julian White says it could take years for the Champion case to go to trial. Attorney Chuck Hobbs says the case is tricky because it involves multiple people and, multiple versions of what happened aboard "Bus C"-- the nickname for the bus that Champion was hazed in.

Hobbs also says he wants to know who the people that will be facing charges are. Early on in the investigation, Dr. White said that he had suspended several band members for hazing in the past-- but allowed some of them back in the band because he believed in giving "second chances."

Hobbs says if some of those formerly-suspended band members are part of the group facing charges, the university should adopt a zero-tolerance policy.

Update 10:24 am 5/2:   An attorney for the family of Robert Champion, says they were not notified by officials that charges would be coming. State Attorney Lawson Lamar of Florida's Ninth Judical Circuit is expected to announce arrests and charges in the case at 2 pm today. 

Spokeswoman Danielle Tavernier says the charges will range from misdemeanors to felonies, and involve at least five people, possibly more.

Whether those people will be charged under Florida's anti-hazing law is unclear. According to the statute, hazing that results in death or serious bodily injury is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, five years probation, and a $5,000 fine.

Update 5:32 pm 5/1: The Associated Press is reporting that the charges will be announced Wednesday at 2 pm at a press conference in Orlando.

Florida A&M University spokeswoman Sharon Saunders released the following statement: "We have no comment.  We have not been provided details about what is scheduled to happen."

Officials in Orlando say they plan to file charges soon in the hazing death of a Florida A&M University Band Drum major.

Breaking: Authorities say at least five people will be charged in the Champion case, but Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings did not say what those charges will be.

The news comes six months after FAMU Band Drum Major Robert Champion was hazed by other band members aboard a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel back in November.

An autopsy report showed Champion died from internal bleeding and shock caused by the hazing.  

Since that time, the school’s band director has been on administrative leave, the band is under suspension and the university has revised its hazing policies.