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13 people charged in FAMU hazing death of drum major Robert Champion

1:29 PM, May 2, 2012   |    comments
Robert Champion
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UPDATE: A prosecutor says 13 people will be charged in the death of Florida A&M university drum major who died after being beaten during a hazing ritual in November.

The prosecutor announced the charges at a news conference Wednesday. The charges come more than five months after 26-year-old Robert Champion died aboard a chartered bus parked outside an Orlando hotel.

Chris Chestnut, the lawyer representing Champion's family, tells 10 News five of the 13 will face felony charges related to hazing involving death. The others will have misdemeanor hazing charges.

No one is facing murder or manslaughter charges in connection to Champion's death. Chestnut also says the bus driver is not among those charged.

Detectives say Champion was hazed by band members following a performance, and witnesses told emergency dispatchers Champion was vomiting before he was found unresponsive aboard the bus.

The medical examiner's office says Champion had bruises to his chest, arms, shoulder and back. His internal bleeding caused him to go into shock, which killed him.

"The family is very disappointed, that there aren't any murder charges," Chestnut says. "And the message it sends is not appropriate. They believe their son was murdered."

Earlier Report:

Orlando, Florida (CNN) -- Criminal charges are expected to be filed Wednesday in Orlando in the suspected hazing death of Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion.

"We're announcing that charges will be filed against several people involved in the death," a law enforcement source close to the investigation said.

Champion, 26, died in November.

Some university band members have said Champion died after taking part in an annual rite of passage called "Crossing Bus C."

The ritual is an initiation process in which pledges attempt to run down the center aisle from the front door of the bus to the back while being punched, kicked and assaulted by senior members, according to band members.

Champion collapsed in Orlando on the bus, which was carrying members of FAMU's Marching 100 after a November football game that included a halftime performance by the group.

The medical examiner's office ruled his death a homicide and said he "collapsed and died within an hour of a hazing incident during which he suffered multiple blunt trauma blows to his body."

An autopsy found "extensive contusions of his chest, arms, shoulder and back," as well as "evidence of crushing of areas of subcutaneous fat," which is the fatty tissue directly under the skin.

The death prompted the university board of trustees to approve an anti-hazing plan that includes an independent panel of experts to investigate.

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Contributing: The Associated Press

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