Although prosecutors had pushed for Dante Martin to be sentenced to nine years in prison, the judge deviated from the sentencing guidelines since Champion had been a willing participant in the hazing.
Champion passed away after a 2011 hazing ritual.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Champion’s parents said they were disappointed that Martin did not receive a longer sentence. They also made it clear that their son did not choose to be mυrdered.
“If people are not held accountable for what they are doing, then what is the system about?” Pam Champion said. “That’s the key is sending a strong message. That’s what we’re missing here.”
Dozens of witnesses also testified on behalf of Martin, further demonstrating that he was, as Judge Renee Roche said, an otherwise “remarkable” young man.
“Forgiveness doesn’t have a role in the legal system. The role of the legal system is punishment,” Roche said. “All other things are secondary.”
Martin was visibly shaken during the sentencing and apologized to Champion’s parents.
“This is something I will live with for the rest of my life,” Martin said.
Martin is the first of 15 other band members to stand trial in Champion’s deαth. Others have, however, pleaded guilty to manslαughter and have been sentenced accordingly.
Three more band members have upcoming trials this spring.
The hazing deαth of Champion has brought national attention to hazing culture in colleges and universities.