The first of 12 defendants involved in the deadly hazing case of drum major Robert Chamion at Florida A&M, was sentenced by an Orlando court on Monday.
According to NBC News, 23-year-old Brian Jones avoided jail time and was sentenced to six months of community supervision followed by two years of probation. Community supervision is a strict monitoring arrangement that requires the use of an ankle monitor and frequent check-ins with probation officials.
Jones is also required to do 200 hours of community service, reports The Associated Press.
The Texas A&M band traveled to Orlando from Tallahassee to perform at a football game when the band members attacked and severely beat Champion in a ritual called “crossing Bus C”. This ritual beating on Nov. 19th, 2011 caused Champion to lose consciousness and then die.
Jones, one of the bands percussionists, faced up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, however, the judge said that Jones’ role in the beating was relatively limited.
“This young man’s part in this horrible act … as compared with many others from what I’ve seen is minimal,” said Judge Marc Lubet, ruling in Orange County Court. “It was an isolated incident in this man’s life for which he’s shown remorse.”
Judge Lubet, quoting Abraham Lincoln during the sentencing, said “mercy bears richer fruit than strict justice,” reports the Orlando Sentinel.
Jones initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, but finally entered into a no-contest plea on October 9th to a third-degree felony hazing charge.
Champion’s parents were present at Monday’s court proceedings where Pam Champion challenged the idea of Jones’ role in the beating being “minor”.
“You and I know that’s not true,” said Pam Champion, addressing Jones. “You played a critical role.”
“You won’t be able to put it out if your mind…It will haunt you,” she told Jones.