Mother of VSU student killed during hazing: ‘I’m very disappointed’

Posted at 12:11 AM, Mar 13, 2015

Williamsburg, Va. -The mother of a Virginia State University student killed during a hazing ritual is speaking out for the first time since the four men charged were sentenced to a year or less in jail.

"Very disappointed because I`ve seen people get much more time for lesser things," said Dionne Williams, Jauwan Holmes' mother. "You lose a human life and you get one year."

Williamsburg teen Jauwan Holmes and Portsmouth teen Marvell Edmondson drowned trying to cross the Appomattox River in 2013 as part of a hazing ritual for the off campus group Men of Honor.

Charles Zollicoffer, Eriq Benson, Cory Baytop, and James Mackey were charged with involunary manslaughter and hazing. Each could have spent a maximum of ten years in prison on the manslaughter charges alone, but prosecutors accepted a plea deal.

Williams said her family and the Edmondson family have found peace through their faith in God and hope others will learn from the price their sons paid.

"My husband and I, as well as the Edmondsons, we sincerely forgive, but it doesn`t take away the pain and it doesn`t bring back our sons," said Williams. "It doesn`t change anything, but it brought more peace in our hearts.

"Galatians 6 and 7 says do not be deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap" said Williams. "So I can`t be your judge."

Williams said Virginia's hazing laws need to be tougher to discourage events like their sons endured. Hazing is a class one misdemeanor in Virginia, punishable by a year in jail and $2,500 dollar fine. The Williams and Edmondson families are working with state leaders to stiffen the penalities.