Defendant avoids jail in FAMU hazing death

Orlando SentinelAugust 3, 2013 

ORLANDO -- The only female Florida A&M University band member charged in the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion was sentenced Friday to speak to high school and middle school students about "poor decisions" and the evils of hazing as punishment for her role in the deadly ritual.

Lasherry Codner, 22, pleaded no contest to felony hazing. A manslaughter charge was dropped.

The snare-drum player, who now lives in Atlanta, sobbed loudly as she apologized to Champion's parents, Robert Sr. and Pamela, who listened to the hearing over a phone connection from Georgia. "On behalf of myself and my entire marching-band family, no one intended on this happening," she said. "This truly changed our lives. We're very, very and deeply sorry that this happened. No one intended for this to happen at all."

Codner also must complete an antihazing course.

Circuit Judge Marc Lubet described Codner's apology as "from the heart." He described her role in Champion's death as relatively minimal.

Champion, 26, was beaten to death during a hazing ritual on a bus parked at the Rosen Plaza hotel in Orlando, where Florida A &M University's famed Marching 100 was staying during the weekend of the Florida Classic, the annual football game and battle of the bands between FAMU and Bethune-Cookman University.

Codner was identified by several bandmates who were asked by investigators to name individuals on the bus during the hazing.

Former drum major Ryan Dean, who received a community-service sentence for his role, told investigators that Codner was behind Champion during the ritual either pushing him or trying to hold him back. She called Champion's death and her legal ordeal as hard life lessons.

During the so-called "crossing" ritual, Champion had to push his way from the front of the bus to the back through a gantlet of band members who blocked his path, punched and kicked him.

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