Dante Martin—the former de facto student president of the hazing rituals conducted by Florida A&M University’s marching band—was sentenced to 77 months in prison (almost six-and-a-half years) for the 2011 hazing death of FAMU student and drum major Robert Champion, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Before Martin’s sentencing on manslaughter charges in Champion’s death, his family, friends and former classmates testified and sent letters to Circuit Judge Renee Roche, asking that she be lenient when sentencing Martin, explaining that the hazing ritual was part of the band’s tradition.
Roche explained that though Martin was a “remarkable young man” with “limitless potential,” forgiveness had no place in the criminal-justice system. “Forgiveness … doesn’t have a role in the legal system,” Roche said, explaining that her duty concerned “punishment” and that “all other things are secondary.”
Champion’s parents took the stand before the sentencing and seemed to be pushing for Martin to serve prison time instead of the house arrest and community-service work that Martin hoped for. Champion’s father said that he sympathized with Martin’s family, but that “today we've got to set an example that this has got to stop now.”
The hazing practice required that Champion make his way from the front of a school bus to the back, shirtless, while being pummeled by senior band members. Champion “died of soft-tissue bleeding caused by the flurry of blows he absorbed,” the Sentinel explained.
Nine other former band members were sentenced to community-service hours and probation for their involvement in Martin’s death.
Read more at the Orlando Sentinel.