A former LSU student accused of negligent homicide in the fatal 2017 alcohol-related hazing of Phi Delta Theta pledge Max Gruver was "vocal" about not wanting Gruver to be a member of the fraternity, new court documents reveal.
Matthew Alexander Naquin, 20, of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, is scheduled to stand trial July 8 in the death of Gruver, 18, of Roswell, Georgia.
Naquin's former roommate, Ryan Matthew Isto, pleaded guilty earlier this month to misdemeanor hazing and has told East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors that Naquin reacted harshly to Gruver being given a "snap bid" by active Phi Delta Theta members prior to the formal "Bid Day."
"When the defendant, Matthew Naquin, realized that Mr. Gruver had been extended a 'snap bid' and signed it, the defendant 'tore up and threw out' Mr. Gruver's snap bid due to the defendant's desire for the victim to not be offered a bid or join Phi Delta Theta," prosecutor Morgan Johnson wrote in a recent court filing in the Naquin case, quoting what Isto told prosecutors.
Isto said Naquin was "vocal about (his desire) to cut Max" throughout the Phi Delta Theta pledge period and was "very pro cutting Max," according to the court filing.
A former LSU student charged with negligent homicide in the Sept. 14 alcohol-related hazing death of freshman fraternity pledge Max Gruver was…
Isto, 19, of Butte, Montana, also told prosecutors that Gruver was the only incoming member that Naquin wanted to cut from the fraternity. Naquin told Isto that, "Max is not a good fit," but gave no specific reason why he felt that way, the prosecutor added.
Johnson is seeking state District Judge Beau Higginbotham's permission to use Naquin's alleged statements to Isto at Naquin's trial.
Naquin’s attorney, John McLindon, was in a trial in Lafayette on Tuesday and said he had not seen Johnson’s latest filing.
Authorities have alleged that Naquin and other senior Phi Delta Theta members targeted Gruver in a hazing ritual they called "Bible study," in which pledges were required to chug hard liquor when they gave incorrect answers to questions about the fraternity.
Earlier this month, Higginbotham ruled that prosecutors can introduce at Naquin’s trial evidence of other alleged incidents involving Naquin and Phi Delta Theta pledges in the weeks and days preceding Gruver’s death on Sept. 14, 2017.
Those incidents include:
- An Aug. 30, 2017, “hurricane party” at which pledges were told they had to drink hard liquor, which caused one pledge to vomit and pass out.
- A late-night Sept. 8, 2017, “firewatch” at which Naquin allegedly fired plastic pellets from an airsoft pistol at pledges guarding the fraternity’s tailgating spot for an LSU football game.
- Naquin telling a pledge sometime between Aug. 20 and Sept. 13 last year that he wished he could cut Gruver from the pledge roll;
- A Sept. 11, 2017, warning from a local Phi Delta Theta official to Naquin that he tone down his interactions with pledges.
A former LSU student accused in last September's alcohol-related death of Max Gruver was rebuked by fellow fraternity members for shooting ple…
In addition to Isto, former LSU student Sean-Paul Gott, 22, of Lafayette, has pleaded no contest to misdemeanor hazing and pledged his cooperation with prosecutors and agreed to testify at Naquin's trial.
Another ex-LSU student, Patrick Andrew Forde, 21, of Westwood, Massachusetts, also is charged with hazing and has agreed to cooperate and testify truthfully at the trial. Prosecutors will decide down the road whether to prosecute Forde.
Two former LSU students pleaded no contest Thursday to misdemeanor hazing in the alcohol-related death of freshman fraternity pledge Max Gruve…
LSU, Phi Delta Theta, Naquin, Isto, Gott and Forde are among the defendants that the Gruver family is suing in Baton Rouge federal court for $25 million in damages.
Phi Delta Theta has been banned from LSU’s campus until at least 2033.