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Former LSU student gets 5 years for the hazing death of a fraternity pledge

A Louisiana State University student is dead after what school officials are calling a "potential hazing incident," according to the coroner's office.

Posted: Nov 20, 2019 11:40 PM
Updated: Nov 20, 2019 11:40 PM

A former Louisiana State University student was sentenced to five years in prison in the 2017 hazing death of 18-year-old fraternity pledge Maxwell Gruver, a court official told CNN.

Matthew Naquin, 21, who was found guilty of negligent homicide earlier this year, will likely serve only two and a half years because the judge suspended half of his sentence.

Naquin was also ordered to 1,000 hours of community service, a $1,000 fine and three years of probation. Additionally, he must write a letter of apology to Gruver's family and speak at different high schools about the dangers of hazing for each year of his probation.

Gruver died on September 14, 2017, after an alcohol-related hazing ritual while pledging Phi Delta Theta.

The night before Gruver died, he 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 pledges were forced to drink alcohol if they answered incorrectly.

Gruver became highly intoxicated, and fraternity members laid him down on a couch in the frat house where they checked on him periodically until 3 a.m., according to witnesses. By 9 a.m. the next morning, his pulse was weak and members couldn't tell whether he was breathing. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead shortly after.

Prosecutors said Naquin was primarily responsible for Gruver's death. Three other students were indicted in 2018 on charges stemming from the incident, and The Advocate reported in July that two of them had been sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Naquin's lawyer continued to maintain his innocence after the jury's verdict, saying his client was not the only person distributing alcohol.

"To pin this all on one guy was just really unfair," attorney John McLindon said in July after Naquin was convicted. "Max (was) there of his own free will -- he could have left at anytime."

The district attorney and Gruver's family said they were unsettled that Naquin had not accepted responsibility.

Naquin offered condolences Wednesday and called hazing "bad" and "dangerous," CNN affiliate WBRZ reported.

"We are troubled by the one condition that this person who is convicted of hazing, who has not accepted an ounce of responsibility, in fact has deflected every part of responsibility, that he be the messenger and poster child to speak to others about hazing," East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said after the sentencing.

"In his statement, there is still no remorse. He does not take any accountability for killing our son," Rae Ann Gruver, Maxwell's mom, said after Wednesday's proceedings.

CNN reached out to LSU for comment but the school did not immediately respond.

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