TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Two fraternity brothers received a two-year prison term each Monday from a judge who said she wanted to send a message with the state's first prosecution under a felony hazing law.
Florida A&M University students Michael Morton, 23, of Fort Lauderdale, and Jason Harris, 25, of Jacksonville, were led from the courtroom in handcuffs, as was Harris' lawyer, Richard Keith Alan II, who was charged with indirect criminal contempt.
The students were charged with hazing Marcus Jones, 20, of Decatur, Ga., who suffered a broken ear drum and severe bruising to his buttocks after he was punched and struck with wooden canes.
Morton was accused of paddling Jones while Harris urged the pledge to take the paddling and revived him when he passed out.
Circuit Judge Kathleen Dekker said that one year might have been sufficient to punish Morton and Harris but that she added a second year to make sure that their sentences serve as a deterrent.
A jury in December convicted both under the new law, which makes it a felony to participate in hazing that results in serious bodily injury.
They could have from 12 months to five years under sentencing guidelines.
It was the second trial for Morton, Harris and three other Kappa Alpha Psi members. The first jury was unable to reach a verdict for any of the five defendants after raising questions about serious bodily injury, which is not defined in the law. The second jury also was unable to reach a verdict for the other three defendants, and they are to be tried a third time in March.