A Florida judge has sentenced former FAMU band member Dante Martin to 77 months – more than six years – in prison for the 2011 hazing death of his FAMU band mate Robert Champion.
Prosecutors said Dante Martin, 27, was known as ‘the president of Bus C’ and organized the initiations that required fellow band members to try to make their way through a pounding gauntlet of fists, drumsticks and mallets from the front of the bus to the back in November 2011 after a FAMU football game.
Dante Martin, who was convicted of felony hazing and manslaughter, said that he would take it all back if he could in court on Friday. Martin is the first of 15 former FAMU band members charged to receive prison time.
“I really don’t know how I could ask you, even say sorry to you,” Martin said. “I know how everything has affected me — emotionally and psychologically — therefore I could never understand the burden of you losing your son.”
The state of Florida asked the judge to sentence Martin to nine years and three months in prison in the beating death of 26-year-old Robert Champion.
From the Orlando Sentinel:
Before her ruling Circuit Judge Renee Roche called Martin a “remarkable young man” with “limitless potential” and a strong support system, based on testimony. She added, “On the other hand, the circumstances of this death were so profoundly disturbing.
“Forgiveness… doesn’t have a role in the legal system,” she said. The goal of sentencing, she said, is “punishment… All other things are secondary.”
Martin, 27, faced up to 22 years in prison for his role in the killing.
In October, an Orange County jury found Martin guilty of manslaughter and other charges in the hazings of Champion and two other band members.
Trials are set for later this year for the other band members.