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Judge: 2 years each for hazing

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published January 30, 2007


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TALLAHASSEE - Two Florida A&M University fraternity brothers each received two-year prison terms Monday from a judge who said she wanted to send a message under the state's new felony hazing law.

Michael Morton, 23, of Fort Lauderdale and Jason Harris, 25, of Jacksonville were led from the courtroom in handcuffs and so was Harris' lawyer, Richard Keith Alan II, who was charged with indirect criminal contempt.

Morton, former president of the university's Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, was found guilty of striking pledge Marcus Jones, 20, of Decatur, Ga., with a wooden cane so severely during four nights of initiation rites that he had surgery for bruising to his buttocks.

Harris was convicted of participating by encouraging Jones to bear up under the beatings and reviving him with water after he passed out so he could go back for more punishment.

Circuit Judge Kathleen Dekker said one year might have been enough to punish them but that she added a second year to make sure that their sentences serve as a deterrent to others. They will receive credit for more than six weeks already spent in jail since being convicted.

A jury in December convicted both under the 2005 law that makes it a felony to participate in hazing that results in serious bodily injury. They could have received 12 months to five years under sentencing guidelines.

It was the second trial for Morton, Harris and three other fraternity members, also charged with beating Jones with canes and punching him.

[Last modified January 30, 2007, 01:19:52]


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