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LSU fraternity pledge's death leads to 4 indictments

Four suspects in the alleged hazing death of a Louisiana State University student were indicted on Thursday, accordin...

Posted: Mar 17, 2018 1:32 PM
Updated: Mar 17, 2018 1:32 PM

Four suspects in the alleged hazing death of a Louisiana State University student were indicted on Thursday, according to the East Baton Rouge District Attorney's Office.

A grand jury indicted Matthew Naquin, 20, on charges of negligent homicide in the death of Maxwell Gruver, District Attorney Hillar Moore said in a news release. Three other men -- Sean-Paul Gott, 21; Patrick Forde, 21; and Ryan Isto, 19 -- were indicted on hazing charges.

Gruver, who was pledging the Phi Delta Theta fraternity at LSU, died in September as a result of a hazing ritual, officials said.

An investigation by police indicated Gruver was forced to drink alcohol as part of the initiation rite. The coroner's office ruled Gruver's death was accidental and caused by "acute alcohol intoxication with aspiration." His blood alcohol level was 0.495% at the time of his death, the coroner said.

Police initially issued arrest warrants in October for 10 Phi Delta Theta members as part of the investigation into Gruver's death.

The grand jury heard evidence against five other suspects. In four of those cases the grand jury could not reach a consensus on whether to charge the suspects, and in a fifth case the jury declined to bring charges, Moore's statement said. His office previously decided not to pursue criminal charges against another suspect.

Evidence was also heard relating to LSU's Phi Delta Theta chapter and whether it had a criminal liability for hazing, but the grand jury could not come to a consensus that it had.

John McLindon, an attorney representing Naquin, said he and his client were "prepared to go to trial."

"No one forced Max Gruver to drink," McLindon said. "I'm prepared to show that my client is not guilty of negligent homicide."

CNN has also reached out to lawyers for Isto and Forde. It couldn't be determined Friday afternoon whether Gott was represented by an attorney.

In Louisiana, the maximum punishment for negligent homicide is five years and a $5,000 fine, according to state law. The maximum penalty for hazing is 30 days and a $100 fine.

Gruver was allegedly forced to drink

The night before he died, Gruver was called to the fraternity house to participate in "Bible Study," according to interviews conducted by LSU police. Fraternity members asked pledges questions about the fraternity, and if they answered incorrectly, pledges were told to "take a 'pull' from a bottle of alcohol," according to arrest warrants. Pledges were also asked to do "wall sits" while fraternity members walked across their knees.

Several interviews conducted by LSU police "indicated that the pledges were forced to drink in excess," according to the warrants. By midnight, Gruver was highly intoxicated and fraternity members laid him down on a couch in the fraternity house, according to witnesses interviewed by police. They checked on him periodically until about 3 a.m.

When members checked on Gruver around 9 a.m. the next day, his pulse was weak and they couldn't tell if he was breathing. That's when Gruver was taken to a hospital, where he later died, according to warrants.

As a result of Gruver's death, the Phi Delta Theta chapter was suspended by the school and the national fraternity, which opened its own investigation into the alleged hazing.

Gruver was one of several pledges who died in 2017, including Timothy Piazza at Penn State University, Andrew Coffey at Florida State University and Matthew Ellis at Texas State University.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307519

Reported Deaths: 7096
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20784248
Hinds19894408
Harrison17493302
Rankin13316275
Jackson13099243
Madison9896210
Lee9859169
Jones8293160
Forrest7523146
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Clarke176876
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Walthall130543
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Lawrence126323
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Franklin81923
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 519071

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754131487
Mobile37774798
Madison33868494
Tuscaloosa25283443
Montgomery23969565
Shelby23112238
Baldwin20638300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14286311
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Walker7092275
Jackson6755110
Autauga6727103
Blount6488135
Colbert6205130
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Russell428938
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia388074
Dallas3527149
Chambers3500122
Clarke346360
Marion3066100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256458
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224955
Hale218775
Butler212366
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Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171540
Washington164038
Macon154848
Clay149454
Crenshaw149357
Cleburne146041
Lamar139334
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
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Sumter102932
Coosa99328
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