Pam Champion, who lost her son Robert to hazing by FAMU band members last September, said she was disappointed that most of the 13 band members charged in the case are facing felony hazing, which brings a maximum sentence of just six years.
Asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper whether she was hoping for murder or manslaughter charges, Champion said that she was.
“ They did explain to me the reasoning behind [the charges],” she said. “My husband and I both were anticipating something that would be a little more harsh. The term hazing in itself is a very light term as to what it is. I don’t look at it as being a form of bullying. Hazing is a very brutal assault, basically what it is, against another person.”
Robert Champion died “within an hour of a hazing incident during which he suffered multiple blunt trauma blows to his body,” according to the medical examiner.
Investigators said they did not find evidence to support murder charges.
“This is a homicide by hazing,” State Attorney Lawson Lamar said in Orlando.
The case built by investigators does not support a charge of murder, according to Lamar.
“We can prove participation in hazing and a death,” said State Attorney Lawson Lamar. “We do not have a blow or a shot or a knife thrust that killed Mr. Champion. It is an aggregation of things, which exactly fit the Florida statute as written by the Legislature.”
Eleven band members each face one count of third-degree felony hazing resulting in death. Each also is accused of two counts of first-degree misdemeanor hazing. Two people each face a single count of misdemeanor first-degree hazing, which usually brings a year in jail. Some of the band members still have not been arrested.
Champion said she was hoping that prosecutors would use the case to set an example and send a message that hazing in any form would no longer be tolerated.
“The crime that was done, you definitely expect to set an example, to say that this is no longer accepted,” she said.