PHOTO: Orlando Sentinel
The former roommate of Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion was sentenced to one year of house arrest and five years probation for his role in his bandmate's death, reports ABCNews.com and Tampa News 9. The 26-year-old Champion died in November 2011 after a vicious hazing from fellow band members. Champion was gay.
Robert Champion's mother was present in court and spoke after the sentencing. Watch the video clip AFTER THE JUMP ...
Rikki Wills will not spend any time in prison after pleading no contest to hazing charges. According to Wills’ lawyer, part of his community control punishment means he has to stay on home confinement, unless he is going to work.
During a status hearing, prosecutors agreed to dismiss a manslaughter charge against the 25-year-old in exchange for his plea. He could potentially have to testify against his former bandmates, if they go to trial. Prosecutors said Wills was present when Champion was beaten by other band members on a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel after the November 2011 Florida Classic game. He later died from his injuries.
Twenty-seven-year-old former FAMU band member Shawn Turner is also expected to be sentenced later today. Turner pleaded "no contest" to manslaughter charges last week and "is not expected to draw a prison sentence either," reports the Orlando Sentinel.
Fourteen former band members pleaded "not guilty in April to charges of manslaughter in connection with the case. "Former band members Ryan Dean and Brian Jones received community-service sentences last year. Another band member, Caleb Jackson, is expected to receive prison time when he is sentenced later this year," adds UPI.
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.
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.
Rikki Wills offered an apology to Robert Champion's parents, who were present in court. Watch Pam Champion speak AFTER THE JUMP ...
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