FILE - In this Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011 file photo, Robert Champion, a drum major in Florida A&M University's Marching 100 band, performs during halftime of a football game in Orlando, Fla. At least five people will face criminal charges in the hazing death Champion aboard a band bus in Orlando last fall, authorities said Tuesday, May 1, 2012. (AP Photo/The Tampa Tribune, Joseph Brown III, File)
(CBS/AP) ORLANDO, Fla. - A prosecutor says most of the 13 people charged in the death of Florida A&M university drum major will face a felony hazing charge.
The prosecutor announced the charges at a news conference Wednesday. State Attorney Lawson Lamar says 11 of the 13 people charged will face the felony charge. The others will face a misdemeanor charge. One has been taken into custody so far, CBS News has learned.
Lamar says a conviction for felony hazing could bring up to nearly six years in prison.
The names of those charged will not be released until they are all arrested, Lamar said. It was also not immediately clear whether they were all band members.
Legal experts had predicted prosecutors may file more serious charges like manslaughter and second-degree murder.
"The testimony obtained to date does not support a charge of murder, in that it does not contain the elements of murder," Lamar said. "We can prove participation in hazing and a death. We do not have a blow or a shot or a knife thrust that killed Mr. Champion. It is an aggregation of things which exactly fit the Florida statute as written by the Legislature."
The charges come more than five months after 26-year-old Robert Champion died aboard a chartered bus parked outside an Orlando hotel.
Detectives say Champion was hazed by band members following a performance. Authorities say Champion had bruises to his chest, arms, shoulder and back. His internal bleeding caused him to go into shock, which killed him.
The parents of the dead student, Pam and Robert Champion Sr., say any arrests will be five months overdue.
"When someone loses their life because of a crime, they should be punished," Champion Sr. told CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann.
"The most important thing is that the example needs to be set," his mother said. "It needs to be an example that sets the stage of what will not be tolerated."
In the hazing ritual, Champion was allegedly kicked, punched and stomped as he ran from the front of the bus to the back. He collapsed and died on his way to the hospital.
After his death, the school's band director admitted its hazing history stretched back four decades. Just this week, two music professors were fired for participating in band hazing.
Chuck Hobbs, the attorney of Dr. Julian White, the band director who is on paid administrative leave, said that his client continues to pray for the Champion family. He also said that White should be reinstated at the university. "We maintain that the evidence we provided following Dr. White's initial termination for alleged incompetence in reporting hazing-- is clearly unfounded by the record evidence. Most of the decisive actions that the university has taken since Robert Champion's tragic death were largely based on Dr. White's reporting both known and alleged incidents of hazing," said Hobbs in a statement following the news of the charges.
Champion's parents have sued the bus company, Fabulous Coach Lines, and plan to sue the school.
"They're going to have to clean the house," Champion's mother said. "They're going to have to step up and do what they know is the right thing to do ... Get rid of the filth that's there. Everything is out in the open, so you can't continue business as usual."
The university has appointed a task force to investigate its hazing culture and suspended all band activities.
Florida's hazing law was passed in 2005 following the death of University of Miami student Chad Meredith four years earlier. Meredith was drunk and died trying to swim across a lake at the behest of fraternity brothers. No criminal charges were filed in his case, but a civil jury ordered the fraternity Kappa Sigma to pay Meredith's parents $12 million.
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