(ORLANDO, Fla.) — A new state prosecutor has raised the stakes in the case involving members of the Florida A&M University marching band, who are accused of hazing drum major, Robert Champion, resulting in his death. Including two additional defendants, 12 people are now charged with manslaughter.
Previous charges for felony hazing resulting in death had been filed against 10 former band members. Now, the 10 and two additional defendants are charged with manslaughter, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
Bill Sharpe, an attorney for suspect Rikki Willis, called the upgraded charges ludicrous.
“He’s disturbed, scared. Anybody would be. This is frightening to him. You know, he’s lost everything he was trying to do,” Sharpe said Monday.
In November 2011, Champion was beaten to death in Orlando. The 26-year-old died after collapsing, following what prosecutors call a savage hazing ritual. It happened on a bus at a hotel parking lot after FAMU played Bethune Cookman for the annual Florida Classic.
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Paul R. La Monica, CNN
Patrick Ary, WAAY
Betsy Klein, CNN
Jon Ostrower and Rene Marsh, CNN