Last defendant in Florida hazing death turns herself in

Sun May 6, 2012 8:48pm EDT

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(Reuters) - The last of 11 people charged in the death of a Florida A&M University drum major turned herself in on Sunday, state officials said.

Lasherry Codner, 20, surrendered to local authorities at the Orange County Jail in Florida, said a statement from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

"We began contacting (her family) on Thursday and she turned herself in today," said Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the department.

Codner joins ten others who face third-degree felony charges of "hazing with death," which is punishable under Florida law by a maximum of six years in prison, for the death of 26-year-old drum major Robert Champion Jr.

Champion was beaten to death on a band charter bus in November 2011 in a case that has drawn public scrutiny of hazing, a ritual that critics say has gone on for years at the Tallahassee-based Florida A&M University.

Plessinger said Codner had been in Georgia and had to travel to Florida to meet authorities. She said law enforcement had contacted all of the defendants and "urged them to turn themselves in."

Champion died after the university's renowned "Marching 100" band performed at the annual Florida Classic football game in Orlando.

The 26-year-old's death was ruled a homicide as a result of a "hemorrhagic shock" caused by "blunt force trauma" during the hazing, according to the medical examiner's report.

Under a Florida law passed last year, a death resulting from hazing is considered a homicide punishable by a "felony level penalty," not a homicide warranting murder charges, said Florida State Attorney Lawson Lamar, who has jurisdiction over Orange and Osceola counties.

Two other defendants face a misdemeanor charge for their involvement in the incident.

(Reporting by Lily Kuo; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis)

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