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Man wanted in FAMU hazing case turns himself in to Hillsborough authorities

ORLANDO — A Florida A&M University student charged in the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion also was charged with hazing a clarinetist so severely that her leg was broken last fall.

Aaron Golson, 19, was charged in December in the beating of Bria Hunter, which occurred less than a month before Champion was pummeled to death on a charter bus after the Florida Classic football game in Orlando on Nov. 19.

A spokeswoman for band director Julian White's attorney said that Golson had been kicked out of the band and should not have been on the bus the night Champion died.

Golson was among eight of the 13 suspects in custody Thursday in the Champion case.

They included Brian Jones, 23, of Parrish, who turned himself in Wednesday night at the Orient Road Jail in Tampa.

Two of the suspects — Shawn Turner, 26, and Rikki Wills, 24 — were drum majors for the famed Marching 100 band.

Orange-Osceola State Attorney Lawson Lamar said 11 of the 13 suspects face felony charges in Champion's beating death.

Another of those arrested, Caleb Jackson, 23, a percussionist in the band, is on probation for an aggravated battery that occurred on the campus of Tallahassee Community College in 2009.

Orlando attorney Alisia Adamson called Jones, 23, "a good kid" who was wrongly implicated in Champion's death.

Jones was a drummer in the band last fall and plays drums on Sundays at St. Mary's Missionary Baptist Church in Parrish, she said.

He was a third-year student majoring in criminal justice when he dropped out of FAMU because of financial reasons after the Florida Classic. He was set to enter the military on June 12 with plans to be a combat medic.

"Obviously, everyone is hurt by the situation," Adamson said. "Everyone is sad Mr. Champion passed away. Mr. Jones' family obviously feels the wrong person (has been charged)."

Two other suspects who surrendered were Jessie Baskin, 20, and Benjamin McNamee, 21. They were released on $15,000 bail each.

Harold Finley, 20, surrendered in Palm Beach County. All are charged with felony hazing resulting in death or serious bodily injury.

Jackson and Wills were arrested Wednesday afternoon and booked into the Leon County Jail, charged with felony hazing resulting in death. Jackson, who was on probation for battery, was denied bond.

McNamee, a baritone player, had previously been suspended from the band for conduct unbecoming of a band member following an incident last spring at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, university records show.

McNamee was exonerated and allowed to rejoin, said a spokeswoman for White's attorney.

According to FDLE, Baskin and McNamee surrendered to authorities at the Miami-Dade County Jail. Turner and Golson, who listed a home address in Stone Mountain, Ga., turned themselves in at the Gadsden County Jail.

FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said state agents have been in contact with the families or attorneys for the three other felony defendants who remain at large. She said two of those defendants live out of state — one in Georgia, the other in Delaware.

Man wanted in FAMU hazing case turns himself in to Hillsborough authorities 05/03/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 3, 2012 10:12pm]
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