Robert Champion
Courtesy of Florida A & M University

A judge on Friday sentenced a former Florida A&M band member to one year in jail for his role in the brutal hazing death of Robert Champion, a drum major, the Associated Press reports.

Circuit Court Judge Marc Lubet sentenced 22-year-old Jessie Baskin, to 51 weeks in county jail, five years' probation and 300 hours of community service in connection with a case that rankled the nation and the marching band culture, the AP says. Baskin is the first person to be sentenced to jail time in the November 2011 death of the 26-year-old Champion.


During the nearly three-hour hearing, Baskin’s attorney called several character witnesses from his family, including his parents, who pleaded for leniency. Baskin was emotional, crying and trembling in his seat, the report says.

After pleading no contest to a charge of manslaughter last November, Basking faced nine years in prison. But Lubet said he was torn about how harsh a sentence to give, saying he thought Baskin was remorseful about what had happened. He added that he hoped a year in jail would get the word out that "hazing will not be tolerated," the AP reports.

Baskin was among 15 former band members charged with manslaughter and hazing in Champion's death. Seven have been sentenced to combinations of probation and community service. One other defendant—25-year-old Caleb Jackson—has pleaded no contest to manslaughter and is awaiting sentencing, the report says.


Champion, a native of Decatur, Ga., died during a hazing ritual on a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel. He collapsed, prosecutors say, after band members beat him with their fists and instruments.

Champion's parents—Robert Sr. and Pam Champion—also testified Friday, as they had at previous sentencing hearings, the report says. Both expressed their grief and sorrow, with Pam Champion encouraging Baskin to "make positive choices going forward."

Read more at the Associated Press.