Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Thursday, October 27, 2016

Eleven of the 13 people who allegedly participated in killing Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion have been charged with “a hazing resulting in death,” a low-grade felony. The two others are accused of misdemeanors.

You can’t blame Champion’s family for being disappointed, and a bit confused.

Champion was singled out for an attack, then beaten until he died. That it occurred during a hazing doesn’t mean it should be handled differently from any other violent homicide, yet it is being handled differently.

Way differently.

Not one of the 13 suspects was booked for murder or even plain old manslaughter, a second-degree felony that can bring up to 15 years in prison. By contrast, causing a death by hazing is only a third-degree felony for which the maximum term is six years.

In other words, a gang-style lethal assault in Florida is more leniently appraised when it’s a moronic college ritual gone awry. Six years behind bars isn’t light time, but it’s much better than the high end of a manslaughter conviction.

What do you think would have happened if Champion had been killed by a mob of strangers in a barroom, or on a street corner?

For starters, authorities wouldn’t have taken more than five months to make an arrest, especially if they had the names of everyone involved. You can also be sure that the defendants in such a case wouldn’t be charged with “hazing” — they’d be facing much heavier felonies.

Here’s how Champion died. The 26-year-old man was made to walk down the aisle of a chartered bus, parked outside an Orlando hotel, while fellow band members (and possibly others) repeatedly kicked and punched him.

Evidently this is what passed for dear tradition within the famed A&M Marching 100, now in disciplinary limbo.

Eventually, Champion collapsed. Later somebody dialed 911: “One of our drum majors is on the bus, and he’s not breathing … He’s in my hands, ma’am. He’s cold.”

If Champion was cold to the touch, it was likely he’d been down for a while.

Lying there, dying among his own band mates after a football-game performance.

In December, less than a month after the incident, the Orange-Osceola Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Champion’s death was a homicide, the autopsy showing “extensive contusions of his chest, arms, shoulder and back with extensive hemorrhage.”

Although coroners found no bone fractures or damage to Champion’s internal organs, there was “significant rapid blood loss” from the injuries he’d received. The cause of death was reported as “hemorrhagic shock due to soft tissue hemorrhage, incurred by blunt force trauma sustained during a hazing incident.”

  • 101strac

    It’s a damned disgrace that these hoods are being treated so leniently. I will never be convinced that each of the individuals who stood around still delivering the kicks and punches to the, (I’m sure by now helpless) victim, were not fully aware that the probabilities were that they were killing him. Nobody is so stupid as to think otherwise. what motivated them is not important, It could have been the power over the victim they felt, maybe hatred for the victim, maybe bravado, showing their fellow assailants how a beating should be administered. None of that is important. They are of an age that they should have known better. My understanding of the law is, If several people are involved in the commission of a crime, and a person dies as a result of that crime, then the people committing the crime are all charged with the death of the victim. Regardless of which of them delivered the fatal blow. Why should this be treated any differently

    • Ed

      Well, as we have seen in Sanfor, FLORIDA IS DIFFERENT

  • 1AmericanHoney27

    What the hell is wrong with this county that people aren’t speaking out to change these laws. The DA that brought such ignorant simple charges should be removed from that position. If it’s not the DA with ignorant charges then it’s the judge that just slaps the hands of the criminals. Either way the punishment rarely ever fits the crime. This is the reason it keeps happening. These were college kids for Christ sake, did they not need to have at least a modicum of sense to be admitted to this school. People seriously need to wake up, stand together, & speak out LOUDLY in order to close these loop holes that seem to keep these criminals sliding thru…. This may have been unintentional but to me it was still murder…. A gang is a gang whether they be on the streets or in our schools…. Why must someone go thru such a horrendous act just to belong…. What happen to the days the worst thing would be to swallow a live gold fish etc…? What is happening to what was once a wonderful country?

    • Ed

      Men in their 20’s are NOT kids.

      • 1AmericanHoney27

        Ed I agree that once you hit Jr high you’re old enuf to know the difference… Most middle school (5th & 6th graders) know right from wrong. College kids was just a figure of speech. Don’t change the fact kid or 20 something’s they will unfortunately slide thru a loop hole.

    • ralphkr

      The most important fact is being completely ignored here, namely that NO DA will bring charges unless he is absolutely convinced that he has a sure win. Just look back and the Manson killings and remember that the DA did not want to bring charges because he did not think it was a sure win and he would rather let the Manson tribe escape than to be criticized for losing at trial (and thereby lose an election which is the most important consideration of any DA).

      • 1AmericanHoney27

        Exactly why they should be removed from office if they’re only covering their own back sides. We’re just as sorry & low class if we let them stay. Maybe the DA in the Manson murders didn’t want to bring charges yet somehow found his balls, tried and got the convictions the victims deserved. Ol Charlie now 77 was just denied parole once again and won’t have another chance for 15 more years. Doubt he’ll be there but at least his ass won’t be on the streets. If a DA is gutless & just doing the job for the almighty $ then their A$$ should be kicked to the curb. All victims deserve justice reguardless of race, creed, color, religion, male or female.

        • ralphkr

          Oh, 1AmericanHoney27, you are forgetting that DAs become DAs because they have a record of winning their trials so…those who only take on sure winners are the ones with the best records. By the way, the DA did not find his balls but was forced to authorize the the prosecution by pressure put upon him by ADAs (I think Bugliosi was the driving force since he REALLY wanted to try the Manson Family) and some LA power brokers. By the way, Bugliosi has written some very interesting books over the years.

          • Skootermarx

            You are spot on ralphkr about a number of items. The politics of justice glare ignominiously, more so when the outcome is an unquestionable travesty — e.g., Sacco & Vanzetti or O.J. Simpson. America’s history is pock marked by injustice but that is not to encourage we throw the baby out with the bath water. That it fails is insufficient to dismiss or replace it; rather because it fails forestalls the need to refine — expanding, augmenting, shoring up. The easiest is not always the best way for fixing a flaw. Observe the career changes resulting from Marcia Clark & Christopher Darden losing their infamous case — winning isn’t everything but losing seems to be. By contrast a big win skyrockets the attorney to both fame and fortune. The final disgrace is how money plays the most prejudicial hand; can you site a case of a pauper, a homeless citiizen, or a working poor was victorious in a U S courtroom. Blind justice indeed.

  • Jon

    Maybe if just one of them had been toking on a doobie, the charges would have been much greater with instant arrests. Tell me, were any of them wearing a hoodie? No? Maybe THAT’S the reason the police didn’t take them seriously.

  • why aren’t these animals on DEATH Row already?