Judge sets October trial for FAMU hazing suspects
By MIKE SCHNEIDER, Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A judge has set an October trial date for 11 marching band members charged with felony hazing in the death of a Florida A&M drum major. An attorney for one of the former band members said Thursday the trial likely won’t start until next year, though, because of the number of defendants and witnesses who need to be interviewed.
“Given the amount of discovery, and everything that needs to be done in this case, and the number of defendants, it will be difficult for the case to be ready for trial at that date,” said Craig Brown, an attorney for defendant Aaron Golson. “There is a lot that has to be gone through.” A list filed by prosecutors last month shows almost 85 potential witnesses for the trial.
Circuit Judge Marc Lubet set the Oct. 8 date during an arraignment hearing. Only defendant Shawn Turner was in court because he had not hired an attorney. He was appointed a public defender.
Most of the other defendants waived their appearances. Champion died in November following what authorities have said was hazing on a bus after FAMU’s football game in Orlando. Champion’s death exposed a wide culture of hazing at the school, specifically in the famed marching band. Critics say FAMU president James Ammons and other administrators ignored the hazing.
Ammons suspended the band in November and last month announced the group would be off the field for the coming school year as well. The trustees of the university in Tallahassee gave Ammons a no confidence vote earlier this month.