Going on two years since their son was killed in a hail of physical abuse, all in the name of being fully accepted into his college’s marching band, the parents of Decatur native Robert Champion want those responsible to be punished.
“I am just looking for justice to be served and that is it,” Pam Champion said Tuesday morning. “There should be accountability for what has been done. There is no way around that.”
Pam Champion and her husband, Robert, held a press conference Tuesday in response to an announcement from a Florida state attorney that the charges against the 12 students implicated in the death of their son have been upgraded from hazing to manslaughter.
With the upgrade the 12 now face up to 15 years in prison instead of a maximum of five.
Initially, 11 of Champion’s band mates including four from metro Atlanta were charged with third-degree felony hazing. One of the 11 pleaded no-contest and was sentenced in October to probation and community service. The Atlantans are Jonathan Boyce, 24, Shawn Turner, 26, Aaron Golson, 19, and Lasherry Codner, 20. Two other students faced misdemeanor charges.
In addition to the 10 charged with manslaughter on Monday, Ashton also charged two more ex-band members, Henry Nesbitt, 26, and Darryl Cearnel, 25, in the fatal hazing.
“It is a step in the right direction,” Pam Champion said.
Robert Champion, one of six FAMU drum majors’s died Nov. 19, 2011 in Orlando. Police and witnesses say that as part of an initiation ritual, Champion went through a gauntlet of band members, who punched, beat and kicked him as he tried to make his way from the front of the band bus to the back.
He died shortly after touching the back of the bus – in a sense, having made it.
The medical examiner ruled that Champion died of hemorrhagic shock caused by blunt-force trauma.
The members of the state ethics commission, eager to bring order to one of the most disordered corners of state government, hired a “receiver” last week to heal their agency and then did they only thing they could.
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