The first of a dozen defendants charged in last year’s hazing death of a Florida A&M drum major was sentenced on a third-degree felony conviction Monday.
Judge Marc Lubet sentenced Brian Jones to 6 months of community control followed by 2 years of supervised probation. Jones will also have to perform 200 hours of community service and attend a hazing course.
The 23-year-old from Parrish entered a no-contest plea Oct. 9 after initially pleading not guilty.
In agreeing to the plea deal, Lubet said Jones’ role in the hazing death of Robert Champion was relatively minimal. Lubet said Jones did not beat or hit Champion.
Lubet said it was a tough decision, but he told Jones, “I think you’re worth saving.”
Champion died last November after being beaten by fellow band members during a hazing ritual aboard a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel after a football game.
During sentencing, Jones apologized to Champion’s family. Through tears, he said, “It’s a completely inexcusable thing and it went further than anybody would ever imagine, wanted or thought it would go. So let me be the first to say that my heart continues to ache.”
Prosecutors admitted their case against Jones was weak, with no evidence that he hit or kicked Champion. They only had a witness who couldn’t even remember if it was Jones who held Champion in a “bear hug” as he was beaten.
Champion’s mother, Pamela Champion, said her son was a man of integrity, saying he was not a violent person.
“If you take the hazing off of the top of what was done to Robert, then you have murder,” said Champion. “To take the life of another human being and lie about it is a double sin against God.”
11 other FAMU band members face felony hazing charges. Another band member faces a misdemeanor count for hazing.
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