Attorneys for the five Florida A&M University fraternity members charged with hazing will learn Thursday from Circuit Judge Kathleen Dekker whether their clients will have to stand trial.Dekker granted a motion for a continuance filed by Assistant State Attorney Frank Allman Monday. The trial, which was set to begin Monday, will resume Sept. 25. The motion stated the state has new evidence “which puts the case in a very different posture.” The state also said Dr. Willis Callins, a physician who treated Marcus Jones and important witness for the prosecution and defense, was unable to testify this week.
The five members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Cory Gray, 22, Marcus Hughes, 21, Brian Bowman, 23, Michael Morton, 23, and Jason Harris, 25, were charged with hazing Jones while he was pledging to be a member of the fraternity last spring. Jones claimed he suffered injuries to his buttocks and eardrum.
Attorney Charles E. Hobbs, defense for Bowman, Gray and Hughes, filed a motion in limine, a request to exclude evidence from the proceedings, Friday. The motion was filed to prevent Marcus Jones, Mark Jones and Nyerere Davidson, a former Famuan staff member and alleged victim, from testifying to serious bodily injuries, stating “they are lay witnesses who can only describe what they observed and not render an ultimate medical or legal conclusion.”
Hobbs also filed six motions for dismissal on behalf of his client, defendant Marcus Hughes, saying Marcus Jones was unable to identify who hit him. Marcus Jones said he suffered a loss of hearing after he was hit on the head.
According to the Florida Statute, Chapter 1006.63, Subsection 2, “A person commits hazing, a third degree felony, when he or she intentionally or recklessly commits any act of hazing as defined in subsection (1) upon another person who is a member of or an applicant to any type of student organization and the hazing results in serious bodily injury or death of such other person.”
There was a “lack of serious bodily injury to Marcus Jones’ buttocks,” stated a second motion filed by Hobbs. The motion included a deposition by Dr. David Fern, a physician who treated Jones. According to the motion, Fern determined Marcus Jones’ buttocks injury, a hematoma, was a soft tissue injury with no long-term or lasting effects.
Another motion stated that there was a lack of serious bodily injury to Davidson.
Davidson said he was hit 10-15 times but suffered no injuries as a result, the court document stated.
“I am very confident in the issues that we have staked out in the motion to dismiss,” Hobbs said.
Richard Keith Alan II, attorney for Harris, and Morton’s attorney Gary Roberts filed similar motions Friday.
If the defendants are found guilty of hazing, they could face up to five years in jail or pay a $5,000 fine.
The hazing trial will be the first to be tried in Florida under the new statute, which made hazing a third-degree felony.
If his clients are acquitted, they plan to request removal of their suspensions from FAMU, Hobbs said. Gray was suspended for 25 months while Bowman was suspended for three years.
Bowman and Morton were set to graduate in April before they received news of their suspension.
Court TV News was in the courtroom Monday and plans to film the trial if it continues.