ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The first of a dozen defendants to be sentenced in last year's hazing death of a Florida A&M drum major avoided jail time when he received his punishment Monday, but he will spend more than two years under close supervision.
Brian Jones was given six months of community control, which strictly limits his freedom with measures including an ankle monitor and frequent check-ins with probation officials. Following that, the 23-year-old from Parrish, Fla., will serve another two years of probation. He's also required to perform 200 hours of community service.
Judge Marc Lubet said Jones's role in the hazing death of Robert Champion was relatively minimal and that Jones did not beat or hit Champion. 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.
"This young man's part in this horrible act … as compared with many others from what I've seen is minimal," Lubet said. "It was an isolated incident in this man's life for which he's shown remorse."
Defense attorney Alisia Adamson noted that only two of the 90 witnesses even said he was on the bus.
Eleven other band members are awaiting trial on felony hazing charges, while another band member faces a misdemeanor hazing count.
Jones had entered a no-contest plea Oct. 9 to the third-degree felony hazing charge after initially pleading not guilty. The maximum penalty for the charge was five years in prison.
Champion's parents and friends say the drum major was a vocal opponent of hazing, but finally relented last November and got aboard "Bus C," which was known for hazing.
Pam and Robert Champion, Sr. both attended Monday's sentencing.
Speaking directly to Jones, Pam Champion challenged the idea that his role had been minor, saying: "You and I know that's not true. You played a critical role."
She carried a picture of Champion with her to the podium before she spoke.
"You won't be able to put it out if your mind…It will haunt you," she told Jones.
Robert Champion, Sr. also addressed the court.
"Fifteen people got on the bus with the intention to haze," the father said. "You don't have say sorry if you didn't get on the bus."
Jones said in a recorded audio statement with investigators that he was on the bus when another hazing victim— Lissette Sanchez — went through the ritual. But Jones told police that he only retrieved his lighter and left to smoke, getting off the bus before Champion got on.
The defendant's mother, Jacqueline Jones, told the court that her son was an honest person and that "he shared with me he had nothing to do with it."
Brian Jones tearfully apologized to the Champion family in court.
"No family should have to go through what you've gone through," he said.
Champion was seeking the top position in the famed marching band, leading dozens who had already endured the hazing ritual. The Marching 100 has performed at Super Bowls and presidential inauguration parades, and some felt the leadership position had to be earned.
What awaited him was a punishing scrum in which about 15 people pushed, struck, kicked and grabbed at participants as they tried to wade down the aisle from the bus's driver seat to touch the back wall, according to interviews with investigators. One witness said bigger band members waited at the back to make the final few steps the most difficult during the "crossing over" portion of the hazing process.
Several others who went through it said the ordeal leaves participants dizzy and breathless at a minimum. After finishing the ordeal, Champion vomited and complained of trouble breathing. He soon fell unconscious and couldn't be revived.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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