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Manatee County Man's family speaks out about hazing arrest | News

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Manatee County Man's family speaks out about hazing arrest

Orlando, Florida -- At least one of the 11 people charged with felony hazing in the death of Florida A&M drum major, Robert Champion, is from the Bay Area. 

23-year-old Brian Jones grew up in Parish, where he and his parents still live.

Today, at the Orlando office of Jones's attorney, Brian's parents, Jaquelin and Paul Jones, spoke about their son, but steered clear of any details regarding the felony hazing charges against him.

Following the advice of his attorney, Brian sat quietly invoking his right to remain silent and not incriminate himself.

His parents said they don't want the public to draw any conclusions about Brian, who has dropped out of Florida A&M for financial reasons.

His parents describe him as a church-going, good person who plays the drums each Sunday at St. Mary's Missionary Baptist Church in Parish.

He turned himself in at the Hillsborough County jail last night, was booked there, and released on $15,000 bond.

Brian, they say, currently works at a call center in the Bradenton area, and was planning to join the army so he could earn enough money to continue his education.

"We have raised our son to do the right thing. We have raised him in the church a part of the church all his life," said Jones's mother Jacquelin.

"Brian has taken that without any direction from us and continued it in and out of our home. We ask that you give him that fair opportunity to be heard when the time comes in a fair manner," she said.

Prosecutors in Orange County say Jones is one of 11 people charged with the felony hazing death of Champion, 26, who was beaten to death on a charter bus after a football game in Novemeber.

Two more people face misdemeanor charges related to Champion's death.

Since he has no previous criminal record, prosecutors say if Jones is convicted under Florida's felony hazing statute, he faces a maximum of six years in prison.

"You know, yesterday coming home and finding out about the arrest warrant when this thing took place several months ago - is just shocking," said Brian's father, Paul.

When asked about Brian's future with the military, his lawyer says Jones was to supposed to begin the process on June 12, but they now assume that's going to be put on hold.

The family has asked people to respect their privacy, and relayed their sympathies to everyone involved in the case.



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