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12 ex-Florida A&M band members charged with manslaughter

3:10 PM, Mar 4, 2013   |    comments
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Pam, left, and Robert Champion Sr. look at defendant Brian Jones, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 as Jones apologizes to them before being sentenced in a Orlando, Florida courtroom in Florida A&M University hazing incident. 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. (Photo: Red Huber, AP)

ORLANDO, Florida (AP) - Prosecutors are charging 12 former Florida A&M University band members with manslaughter in the 2011 beating death of a drum major.

Ten of the band members had been charged last May with felony hazing for the death of 26-year-old Robert Champion, but prosecutors said Monday they are raising the charges to manslaughter. They also have charged two additional defendants with manslaughter.

Champion died in Orlando in November 2011 after he collapsed following what prosecutors say was a savage beating during a hazing ritual. It happened on a bus parked in a hotel parking lot after Florida A&M played Bethune-Cookman in their annual rivalry football game.

Champion's death drew attention to the brutal practice of hazing - or an endurance ritual for new members of an organization - among marching bands at some U.S. colleges.

Authorities say Champion had bruises on his chest, arms, shoulder and back and died of internal bleeding. Witnesses told emergency dispatchers that the drum major was vomiting before he was found unresponsive aboard the bus.

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