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Orlando, Fla. — A prosecutor says a former band member charged in the death of a Florida A&M University drum major was the chief organizer of a brutal hazing ritual that has been a secret tradition at the school for years.

During opening statements Tuesday in the manslaughter and hazing trial of 27-year-old Dante Martin, state attorney Jeff Ashton called the ritual that eventually killed Robert Champion in 2011 a “dark tradition” inside FAMU’s band that Martin was in charge of the night Champion died.

But defense attorney Dino Michaels told jurors that band members would testify that the ritual was more akin to a competition and not actually hazing.

A jury of four women and two men were selected to hear the case, which is expected to last a week.

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