Saturday, November 01, 2014

Dante Martin, accused “Bus C” ringleader, found guilty on all counts

Yesterday, an Orange County, Fla. jury found the accused “Crossing Bus C” ringleader guilty of manslaughter in the hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion, Jr.

Dante Martin, 27, was immediately fingerprinted and taken into the custody of the Orange County Sheriff after the verdict was delivered. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 9, 2015. His attorneys said they plan to appeal.

Martin could face up to a total of 22 years for the manslaughter conviction and two misdemeanor hazing convictions against former Marching 100 band members Lissette Sanchez and Keon Hollis.

According to the New York Times, “Hollis testified this week that he and Mr. Champion, his friend and fellow drum major, agreed to undergo the ritual in order to solidify their respect among band members.”

Sanchez also said she volunteered to be hazed in order to gain respect. The Orlando Sentinel reported that: “she testified that she was required to follow Bus C rules because she had not yet crossed the bus. Those rules forced her to walk backwards onto the bus and to her seat. They also forbid her to listen to music on an iPod or sleep during long bus trips from Tallahassee to band performances in South Carolina and Orlando.”

Sanchez and Hollis both identified Martin as the leader of the hazing process.

WFTV in Orlando also reported that “defense attorneys and prosecutors agreed that no witness had said that Champion’s sexuality played a role in the severity of his hazing.” That led Circuit Judge Rene Roche to rule that neither side should mention the fact that Champion was gay during trial, as it was irrelevant. 

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