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Ex-FAMU band member convicted in hazing death

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida A&M band member accused of being the ringleader of a brutal hazing ritual known as "Crossing Bus C" that killed a drum major was convicted Friday of manslaughter and felony hazing.

Prosecutors said Dante Martin, 27, was known as "the president of Bus C" and organized the initiations that required fellow band members to try to make their way through a pounding gauntlet of fists, drumsticks and mallets from the front of the bus to the back in November 2011 after a football game. Two other band members went through the bus before Robert Champion, 26, of Decatur, Georgia. Martin was convicted of misdemeanor hazing counts in their beatings.

Champion's parents sat silently as the verdicts were read. Martin sat with his head down.

Martin's sentencing was set for Jan. 9 and he was taken into custody. Manslaughter is punishable by up to 15 years in prison in Florida.

Prosecutor: Former band member organized hazing

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.

Overcharged: 5,500 Homes in Dekalb Co Audited

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. (WXIA) -- We first reported thousands of people being overcharged for water in Dekalb County. Since then 11Alive News has learned even more homes are affected. As many as 5500 homes are being audited across the county to determine if they were overcharged for water.

Gwyn Gordon still feels sunk when she looks at her water bill. She pays more to boil water than to keep the lights on.

"It shouldn't be at $145," she said.

Even though she's cut back on her water usage the bill just doesn't reflect the difference.

"I've gone from a $75 bill to $435 to $145. There's no consistency," she said.

That's lower than when she first contacted 11Alive about her bad bills, but she still believes it's inaccurate.

MedShare sending beds to help Ebola patients

DECATUR, GA (WXIA) – As leaders and volunteers worldwide fight to control the Ebola outbreak, one local organization has made it its mission to send beds for patients in West Africa.


Workers from Atlanta-based MedShare are carefully preparing box springs and mattresses for the long trip to Sierra Leone. The 25 donated beds will be used in a pediatric ward where children are being monitored for Ebola.

"When we hear 'isolation ward,' we think some fancy building – four walls," said MedShare CEO Charles Redding. "This could be a tent, a temporary structure."

New trials ordered involving DeKalb Co. Schools

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- A Superior Court judge has just ordered new trials in a corruption case involving DeKalb County Schools. The ruling would give Patricia Reid and Anthony Pope a new day in court.

It stems from a finding by the court that the testimony of the state's star witness, former school superintendent Crawford Lewis, was not truthful.

DeKalb District Attorney Robert James is objecting to the judge's ruling, saying that the judge, Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker, does not have jurisdiction in the case. James argues that the state Court of Appeals has jurisdiction.

11Alive will have more on this story tonight at 11!

Atlanta-area unemployment drops to 7.3 percent

Atlanta-area unemployment drops to 7.3 percent

(WXIA) -- Metro Atlanta's unemployment rate fell seven-tenths of a point in September.

Last month's rate was 7.3 percent, well below August's 8.0 percent. The unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in September 2013.

DeKalb County's unemployment rate was 7.7 percent in September.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said there were nearly 20,000 fewer unemployed people in Atlanta last month, and companies reported fewer layoffs. Industries that added jobs in September include government; education and health services; construction; and trade and transportation.

Metro Athens had Georgia's lowest unemployment rate in September, at 5.7 percent. The Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest, at 9.5 percent.

Judge declares mistrial in Burrell Ellis trial

DECATUR, Ga. -- A DeKalb County judge declared a mistrial in the corruption trial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis after the jury could not come to a unanimous decision.

Judge Courtney Johnson issued an Allen charge Monday to jurors. An Allen charge, also known as a "dynamite charge," is a final legal mandate to the jurors to reach a verdict.

Still, jurors were unable to come to a unanimous decision after 11 days of deliberating. The jury sent several notes to the judge explaining their troubles in coming to a conclusion on the 13 counts.