Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Ex-head drum major sentenced to probation in hazing homicide

Jonathan Boyce, 26, the former head drum major of the Marching 100, pleaded no contest to a felony hazing charge in the homicide of band member Robert Champion, Jr.

Circuit Judge Marc Lubet sentenced Boyce to five years of probation. Lubet also chose to withhold adjudication, which means that Boyce will not have a conviction on his record.

Boyce’s “no contest” plea was part of a deal he struck with the state attorney’s office of Ninth Judicial District of Florida. Prosecutors agreed to drop the second-degree manslaughter charge against him, which would have carried up to 15 years in prison.

The ex-head drum major said that Champion had requested his permission to go through the “Crossing Bus C” ritual the entire marching season.

“It's a respect thing, you know,” Boyce told investigators. “Well, he was wanting to do it all ... all season.”

Boyce explained that he declined to grant Champion the go-ahead to complete the ritual until after the last performance of the year (November 19, 2011) because he was afraid Champion might be injured so seriously that he wouldn’t be able to march.

According to an Orange County Sheriff’s Office report, Boyce and fellow drum major Shawn Turner said that they tried to help Champion make it through the hazing gauntlet on Bus C and touch the end of the vehicle (which would satisfy the objective of the process).

“Shawn Turner and Jonathan Boyce were helping Robert Champion, pulling his right arm while others were pulling in the opposite direction trying to pull him away from the rear of the bus,” Detective David A. Phelan wrote. “Shawn Turner and Jonathan Boyce pulled as hard as they could and snatched Robert Champion away from the crowd. Once Robert Champion touched the rear of the bus, everything was over. Robert Champion said he was tired and asked for some water as he sat at the rear of the bus and the beating had ceased.”

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