ORLANDO, Fla. -- Prosecutors are charging 12 former Florida A&M University band members with manslaughter in the 2011 hazing 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 have added a charge of second degree manslaughter. They also have charged two additional defendants.
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For months, Champion's parents, Pam and Robert Champion, Sr., have said the hazing charges were not severe enough, calling them just a slap on the wrist "for the murder of our son."
Tuesday, Champion's parents called the charges "encouraging."
Their attorney, Christopher Chestnut, credited a new state attorney in Florida with upping the charges.
"The family and I applaud the courage of the new Florida state attorney in upgrading these charges. We certainly feel these charges are more in line with the severity of what happened to Robert, but the fact remains we would not be in this situation at all if FAMU had stopped hazing decades ago," Chestnut said.
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 FAMU played Bethune-Cookman in their annual rivalry football game.
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.