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Second FAMU hazing trial under way

Just as in the first trial, the severity of the accuser's injuries dominates arguments.

Published December 13, 2006


TALLAHASSEE - State prosecutors began their second effort Tuesday to convince jurors that five Florida A&M fraternity brothers are guilty of felony hazing of a student.

The first effort ended in a mistrial in October because jurors couldn't decide whether Marcus Jones suffered "serious bodily injury."

Assistant State Attorney Frank Allman told jurors in his opening statement, "This is not going to be a particularly complicated case."

The Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brothers are the first to be tried for the new crime of felony hazing, put into law in 2005.

Jones, of Decatur, Ga., alleged he was beaten and punched so hard he suffered temporary partial hearing loss and needed surgery on his buttocks.

Defense attorney Chuck Hobbs told jurors that Jones was angry over not getting into the fraternity and wanted money.

Prosecutors said Jones' father found out about his injuries because he saw his son's blood through his pants.

That is fiction, Hobbs said.

"There were no bloody clothes because Marcus Jones was not bleeding when he presented to the hospital."

Hobbs also told jurors that Jones' father didn't call law enforcement first - he called a newspaper and a personal injury attorney.

Allman told jurors that Jones, now 20, who was a sophomore at the time of the alleged hazing, initially denied he was hazed during a preliminary investigation.

"He was concerned about breaking the code of silence," Allman said.

Florida A&M is a historically black college. All the defendants and the alleged victim are black. The six-person jury includes two black men.

Two black women were excused from the jury Tuesday morning by Circuit Judge Kathleen Dekker. One said she realized she had briefly served as academic adviser to one of the defendants. The other said she was worried about a medical condition and financial hardships that would make it hard for her to serve. Both were replaced by white alternates.

[Last modified December 13, 2006, 01:06:30]

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