There is a major new development in the case of Robert Champion, the 26-year-old Florida A&M University drum major who died in November 2011 after a vicious hazing from fellow band members. Champion was gay.
Wills, who was set to stand trial Monday, accepted a plea offer from prosecutors who hope to use his testimony to build a stronger case against the 11 remaining defendants in the hazing scandal that led to the suspension of the iconic Florida A&M University band. [P]rosecutors dropped the manslaughter charge that Wills had faced. That charge carried a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years.
Robert Champion died from blunt force trauma after the brutal hazing , which allegedly included being kicked, punched and hit with traffic cones. Fourteen former band members pleaded "not guilty" last month to charges of manslaughter in connection with the case. Wills becomes the fourth to have pleaded no contest to felony hazing or manslaughter.
Florida A&M University is the state's only public, historically Black university. The Tallahassee-based university was founded in 1887 "and it is the largest historically black university in the United States by enrollment," according to its Wiki.
FAMU is well-known for its Marching "100" Band—which has a long history of violent hazing incidents. The Marching 100 has been suspended since Champion's death. The university will make a decision late this month on reinstating the band, reports Tallahassee's WCTV.
Champion's parents publicly revealed in January 2012 that their son was gay. In addition to being vocally opposed to hazing, Champion's sexuality could have been among the reasons why he was viciously beaten during the attack, according to the family's attorney. Read more at my article for Ebony: "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell": Why Has Black Media Ignored the Sexuality of FAMU Hazing Victim Robert Champion?"
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