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Former Florida A&M band member pleads no contest in hazing death

ORLANDO, Fla., April 16 (UPI) -- A former Florida A&M University student faces a possible prison term after he pleaded no contest Tuesday to the felony hazing of a drum major who died.

Caleb Jackson, 24, who was a percussionist with the university's marching band, is the first of 14 defendants to enter what is, in effect, a guilty plea, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel reported. The other defendants are also charged with manslaughter.

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Robert Champion, 26, died in 2011 after he ran a gauntlet, submitting to beating with paddles. The ritual, known as "crossing Bus C," was a longtime practice of the FAMU band, the Marching 100, the report said.

The university is in Tallahassee, but the beating occurred in Orlando, where the band was performing.

Jackson, whose plea agreement did not specify any sentence, faces up to five years. Those charged with manslaughter could get up to 15 years if they are convicted.

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