Red Huber / Orlando Sentinel
Brian Jones looks to the court gallery before being sentenced in an Orlando courtroom for his role in the hazing death of a Florida A&M University band member on Monday.
The first of 12 defendants in the deadly hazing case of Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion was sentenced by an Orlando court on Monday.
Brian Jones, 23, avoided a jail term, but was sentenced to six months of community supervision — a strict monitoring arragement that requires an ankle monitor and frequent check-ins with probation officials — followed by two years of probation. He is also required to do 200 hours of community service, The Associated Press reported.
The band had traveled to Orlando from Tallahassee to perform at a football game when the fellow band members subjected Champion to a severe beating on the bus — in a ritual called "crossing Bus C" — which caused him to fall unconscious, and then die, on Nov. 19, 2011.
Jones, a percussionist, faced up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. But the judge said Jones’ role had been relatively limited.
"This young man's part in this horrible act ... as compared with many others from what I've seen is minimal," said Judge Marc Lubet, ruling in Orange County Court. "It was an isolated incident in this man's life for which he's shown remorse."
Lubet quoted Abraham Lincoln as he announced the sentence, saying that "mercy bears richer fruit than strict justice," the Orlando Sentinel reported.
After initially pleading not guilty, Jones entered a no-contest plea Oct. 9 to a third-degree felony hazing charge.
Champion’s parents attended Monday's court proceedings. Prior to the sentencing, his mother challenged the idea that Jones’ role had been minor:
"You and I know that's not true," said Pam Champion, addressing Jones, and carrying a picture of her son. "You played a critical role."
"You won't be able to put it out if your mind...It will haunt you," she told Jones.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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