ORLANDO, Fla. – A former Florida A&M University band member told a judge Thursday he will not testify on his own behalf in his trial on manslaughter and hazing charges in the November 2011 death of a school drum major.
"I wish to remain silent and not testify," Dante Martin told Judge Renee Roche in an Orlando courtroom. Closing arguments and possibly jury deliberations were set to begin later Thursday.
Earlier, state medical examiner Dr. Sasra Irrgang testified that 26-year-old Robert Champion, of Decatur, Georgia, died from massive blood loss into his own body through bruises sustained during a hazing ritual on a band team bus in Orlando.
The medical examiner testified that half of Champion's blood supply was lost into bruises, where blood pooled in the damaged tissue. Dangerous enzymes were also released by the damage.
"Eventually you reach the point of no return," Irrgang said. She added that the injury was similar to tissue damage soldiers suffer during blasts in war.
Champion was injured during a ritual known as "crossing Bus C," which involved running down a gauntlet aboard a parked bus while getting kicked, punched and hit with band instruments.
Champion initially said he was fine after the hazing following a football game in Orlando's Citrus Bowl. Shortly afterward, he vomited and collapsed.
"All of the blood loss might not have occurred during the beating. It might have taken some time. There was no abnormality to the heart," Irrgang said.
The morning began with the judge dismissing a juror who felt ill and said she thought the medical examiner testimony might make her feel worse.
Champion played clarinet in the school's storied Marching 100 until he rose to drum major. Several students testified they submitted to the hazing, a one-time rite of passage, after being shunned for refusing.
Several students testified earlier this week that Martin was the ringleader of the hazing. Others involved have escaped charges or pleaded guilty to lesser ones.