Former FAMU student sentenced in hazing death of Robert Champion
By Valerie Boey
FOX 35 News
ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A former Florida A&M student was sentenced on Friday for the 2011 hazing death of Robert Champion. Caleb Jackson showed no emotion after he was sentenced to four years in prison. Due to time served, he will be behind bars for about another year. Jackson pleaded no contest to manslaughter and felony hazing, involving the death of Champion.
The FAMU marching band was in town for the Florida Classic. Prosecutors said the 26-year-old Champion willingly got on a bus parked at the Rosen Plaza Hotel. He died after being beaten to death during what was determined to be a hazing routine. Jackson originally pleaded no contest, thinking he would receive a lesser sentence, but the judge changed it to four years after Champion's mother offered an emotional plea for change, when it comes to being punished for hazing.
At one point, Pamela Champion spoke directly to Jackson. "You will never get over the fact that you killed my son Robert. It will always be in your hands. Just like I have to go on with my life, without my son and that hurts more anything." Champion's father, Robert Champion Sr. also spoke out. He said, "It does send a message, but the message that we also want to send is we have to hold our schools and universities responsible. We have to throw tradition out the door, tradition kills people. What we have to look at today, is our kids are more important than tradition and we have to change."
Thirteen other students were also charged in the case. While the majority received probation, one was sentenced to six years in prison and another to a year in jail.