Prosecutors are charging 12 former Florida A&M University band members with manslaughter in the 2011 hazing death of drum major Robert Champion. (Source: Joe Brown/TBO)
ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA/AP) -
The parents of a Florida A&M University drum major who was killed during an apparent hazing incident at the school held a news conference Tuesday.
Robert Champion Jr. died in Orlando in November 2011 after he collapsed following what prosecutors said was a savage beating during a hazing ritual. It happened on a bus parked in a hotel parking lot after Florida A&M played Bethune-Cookman in their annual rivalry football game.
Robert and Pamela Champion, along with their attorney, Christopher Chestnut, made comments regarding the decision by newly elected Orange-Osceola County State Attorney Jeff Ashton to upgrade charges against those involved.
"I really think it's a step in the right direction. I really applaud Mr. Ashton for taking a look at the case and looking at it again," Pamela Champion said.
Twelve former Florida A&M University band members were charged Monday with manslaughter in Champion's death.
Ten of the band members had been charged last May with third-degree felony hazing, but the state attorney's office said they are adding the charge of manslaughter for each defendant. They also have charged two additional defendants with manslaughter, though they have yet to be arrested.
"Prior to this state attorney's posture was what he couldn't do what he didn't have," Chestnut said. "This is a state attorney who just got elected, stepped in, seized the reigns and, without even consulting us, charged manslaughter because he felt it was the right thing to do."
Robert Champion Jr.'s parents told CBS Atlanta News that they have a renewed faith in the Florida State's Attorney's Office now that the charges have been upgraded.
The family had questioned the previous administration on their unwillingness to seek more severe charges.
The second-degree manslaughter charge carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
CBSAtlanta.com will have more details as they become available.
Copyright 2013 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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