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Former Florida A&M Student Sentenced To 6 Years In Hazing Death

Dante Martin addresses the parents of Robert Champion on the witness stand on Friday. Martin was sentenced to six years in connection with the hazing death of Champion.
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A judge in Florida has sentenced former Florida A&M University student Dante Martin to six years in prison for manslaughter and felony hazing in the 2011 death of his fellow band member, drum major Robert Champion.

Martin is one of 15 former band members who were charged in connection with the death of Champion, who died after being beaten as part of a hazing ritual. Martin was found guilty in October. Most of the others who have been charged have had their cases resolved.

Circuit Judge Renee Roche called Martin "a willing participant" in the Nov. 19, 2011, beating of Champion, which occurred on a bus after the Florida A&M's Marching 100 performed at the university's football game at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

A medical examiner determined that Champion died of soft tissue bleeding caused by the repeated blows he received from his band mates. The Orlando Sentinel described the hazing based on testimony during Martin's trial:

"Champion, 26, endured hundreds of blows during a ritual known as "crossing bus c," which required him to run from the front of the bus to the back through a gantlet of band members who blocked his path and battered him with fists, drumsticks and other objects."

The Sentinel reports that Judge Roche called Martin a "remarkable young man" with "limitless potential" and a strong support system.

"On the other hand, the circumstances of this death were so profoundly disturbing," she was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

"Forgiveness ... doesn't have a role in the legal system," she said. The goal of sentencing, she said, is punishment — "all other things are secondary."

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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