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First Guilty Plea In FAMU Hazing Case

Leon County Jail

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - An attorney for one of the defendants in the hazing death of a Florida A&M drum major says his client is going to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors.

A lawyer for 24-year-old Caleb Jackson said at a court hearing Friday that his client will plead guilty to felony hazing and manslaughter.
Jackson has been held at the Leon County Jail since he was charged last year.  He was detained on a violation of probation and could enter the plea as soon as April.
Attorney Chuck Hobbs says Jackson has expressed remorse over what happened to drum major Robert Champion, who died in Orlando in November 2011. He collapsed following what prosecutors say was a savage beating during a hazing ritual. aboard a bus parked outside a hotel where the band was staying following the Orlando Classic Football game with the school's rival, Bethune-Cookman University,

Earlier in the week, the state attorney's office announced it was upgrading charges against 12 former Florida A&M University band members. They were originally charged with felony hazing, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The additional manslaughter charges carry a sentence of 15 years.

The family of Robert Champion has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Florida A&M. They say the school knew about hazing in the band and failed to stop it. Both sides are in mediation in an attempt to settle the suit outside of court.

Since Champion's death, the school's longtime band director has resigned, and the university has revised it's hazing policies. The "Marching 100" band remains on an indefinite suspension.

Two other people have already been tried under misdemeanor hazing charges, and have received fines and lengthy probationary periods.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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