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FAMU Hazing Defendant Seeks Plea Deal Ahead Of Trial

Robert Champion

Another plea deal could be in the works in the case involving the 2011 hazing death of a Florida A&M University Drum Major.

One of the final four defendants in the FAMU hazing case, Benjamin McNamee, is considering a plea deal. His attorney Wednesday told the judge McNamee would consider the plea deal if it could be done before the judge who had the case previously.

Fifteen people were originally charged with manslaughter in the hazing death of FAMU Drum Major Robert Champion. Nearly all have accepted reduced charges and plea deals involving probation and community services. One defendant is facing jail time for violating his probation when the hazing occurred.

State attorney Jeff Ashton says Champion’s family may object to a plea deal. The Associated Press reports the judge presiding over the case says the word "hazing" can be used during the trial. Defense attorneys had tried to claim what happened to Champion was the result of a contest. Champion died after a he was beaten in a hazing ritual aboard a bus following an Orlando football game. 

Judge Rene Roche on Wednesday agreed with defense attorneys and prosecutors that there should be no mention that drum major Robert Champion was gay. "Defense attorneys and prosecutors agreed that no witness had said that Champion's sexuality played a role in the severity of his hazing," the AP reports.

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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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