A dozen former college band members at Florida A&M University were recently charged with manslaughter following the 2011 hazing death of another 26-year-old band member. These charges have been added onto original charges of felony hazing that 10 of these individuals face. Two people who were involved face manslaughter charges as well but have not been arrested. The criminal charge of manslaughter could mean a maximum prison term of 15 years for these young men, and the prosecution does not need to prove who actually administered the fatal blows to the victim but only that the defendants took part in the hazing.
The victim allegedly suffered a brutal beating during a hazing ritual that occurred after a football game with a rival team. He collapsed and later died while on a bus at a hotel. Law enforcement personnel indicated that he sustained bruises all over his upper torso and succumbed to internal bleeding. Witnesses reported that he was throwing up just before emergency personnel arrived at the scene to administer intervention, of which he did not respond.
Two individuals have already been sentenced to felony hazing after changing their initial not-guilty pleas to no-contest pleas. The first defendant received six months of community control, which means he faces strict supervision. He received 24 months of probation and must complete 200 work-order hours. The second defendant received 48 months of probation and 200 hours of community service.
The suspects in this case face serious charges after the hazing death of one of their fellow band members and could serve significant prison terms if they are convicted. As in the case of the two offenders who already pleaded no-contest, a criminal defense lawyer might be able to negotiate a plea agreement that would drop prison time for clients facing charges for similar crimes.
Source: ABC Local, “12 charged with manslaughter in FAMU death,” March 4, 2013