The Florida A&M drum major who died after being hazed on a bus asked to go through the ritual because it was seen as a sign of respect, a defendant in the case said in a deposition released Wednesday.
Robert Champion, 26, died last November after enduring the brutal hazing ritual on a bus outside a hotel in Orlando, Fla., where FAMU played against its archrival in football. An autopsy concluded he suffered blunt trauma blows to his body and died from shock caused by severe bleeding, CBS News reported.
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"It's a respect thing, you know," defendant Jonathan Boyce told detectives of the ritual known as "crossing over." "Well, he was wanting to do it all … all season."
Champion's parents have said their son was a vocal opponent of the routine hazing in the band, The Associated Press reported.
Another defendant in the case, Aaron Golson, claimed in a separate deposition that Champion was never interested in the ritual, Orlando TV station CFN 13 reported.
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Drum major Keon Hollis told detectives Champion went through the hazing ritual after him the night Champion died. He said there were at least 15 band members on the bus who performed the ritual, CBS News reported.
The interviews are among 2,300 pages of documents released by prosecutors Wednesday. Thirteen people face charges in Champion's death, including 11 who are charged with a third-degree felony and two who are charged with misdemeanors.
The 11 defendants facing felony charges are scheduled for their first court appearances to enter pleas June 14. The 10 men and one woman face a maximum six-year prison sentence if convicted, according to the AP.