Charges dropped against FAMU hazing defendant

Florida prosecutors have dropped charges against a former band member who called 911 after Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion was beaten during a hazing ritual.

Henry Nesbitt had faced manslaughter and hazing charges until the state attorney notified the court Friday he wouldn’t pursue prosecution of those alleged crimes, according to Orange County court documents.

Champion, who is originally from Decatur, collapsed and died in November 2011 following a hazing ritual in which he walked down the aisle of a bus as other band members beat him with fists and instruments, prosecutors have said.

“Henry Nesbitt was the one person who was there who snatched someone’s cellphone and called 911 for Mr. Champion,” Nesbitt’s attorney, Zachary White, said Saturday. “The evidence shows that he wasn’t on the bus at the time when any of the activities were going on.”

White said there was a lack of evidence for prosecutors to move forward with a case against Nesbitt.

Nesbitt didn’t reach a plea agreement with prosecutors, and he remains on the state’s witness list to potentially testify at the trial of the remaining defendants, White said.

“He just believed that Robert Champion’s parents deserved to know what happened to their child,” White told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He was someone who would try to help.”

A trial of other former FAMU band members is scheduled for the period starting June 9.

Of the 15 former band members who were charged with hazing and manslaughter in Champion’s death, seven have been sentenced to probation and community service. Two other defendants have pleaded no contest to manslaughter and await sentencing.

Phone messages left with Champion’s parents and their attorney weren’t immediately returned Saturday.

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