Jury selection moves to Day 2 in FAMU hazing case

Author: Associated Press
Published: Updated:
Courtesy of Joe Brown/ TBO/ MGN

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – The manslaughter trial of the remaining three former band members charged in the hazing death of a Florida A&M drum major will move to a second day with opening statements expected Tuesday.

Attorneys dismissed 18 prospective jurors after questioning a pool of several dozen on Monday about their exposure to publicity and potential biases. All but one of the three defense attorneys concluded examining the potential jurors. Six jurors will eventually be selected to hear the case, along with two alternates.

Before jury selection began, Judge Renee Roche dismissed misdemeanor hazing charges faced by defendants Benjamin McNamee, Aaron Golson and Darryl Cearnel, who are being tried together. Each still faces 15 years on manslaughter and felony hazing counts for the November 2011 death of 26-year-old Robert Champion.

Champion – from Decatur, Georgia – was beaten during a hazing ritual in a hotel parking lot aboard a parked bus following a football game.

Fifteen former band members were charged with manslaughter. Dante Martin, now 27, was convicted last year and is serving six years.

Another former band member, Jessie Baskin, served one year in county jail. Several others took deals for probation and community service.

Much of the questioning by attorneys on Monday focused on their previous knowledge about the nearly 4-year-old incident, which exposed a culture of hazing within the school’s famed Marching 100 band.

The band was suspended for more than a year following Champion’s death. The former band director retired, and the school president also resigned.

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