Max Gruver was one month into his first year of college at LSU when he died of alcohol poisoning in what authorities have described as a hazing ritual at the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house.
On Monday, jury selection is set to begin in the high-profile case of the only man charged with a felony in the Sept. 14, 2017, death of 18-year-old Gruver.
Former LSU student and ex-Phi Delta Theta member Matthew Naquin, 21, of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, faces up to five years in prison if convicted on negligent homicide. Prosecutors also charged him last week with obstruction of justice but said they won't go forward on that charge until the negligent homicide case is resolved.
Defense lawyers for a former LSU student charged in the hazing-related death of Maxwell Gruver can raise at trial Gruver's alleged heavy drink…
A six-person East Baton Rouge Parish jury will decide Naquin's fate on the negligent homicide charge. The trial is likely to last more than a week in state District Judge Beau Higginbotham's 19th Judicial District courtroom.
Jurors are expected to hear from Naquin’s former LSU roommate, Ryan Matthew Isto, 20, of Butte, Montana, and ex-LSU student Sean-Paul Gott, 22, of Lafayette, both of whom pleaded no contest last fall to misdemeanor hazing and agreed to testify at the trial.
Two former LSU students pleaded no contest Thursday to misdemeanor hazing in the alcohol-related death of freshman fraternity pledge Max Gruve…
Another former LSU student charged with hazing, Patrick Andrew Forde, 22, of Westwood, Massachusetts, is cooperating with prosecutors and also is expected to testify. Prosecutors have said they’ll decide later whether to prosecute him.
Gruver, of Roswell, Georgia, died after a hazing ritual called “Bible study,” in which Phi Delta Theta pledges were required to chug 190-proof liquor if they gave wrong answers to questions about the fraternity.
Gruver's blood-alcohol level was 0.495%, which is more than six times the legal limit to drive in Louisiana. An autopsy also detected THC, the chemical found in marijuana, in his system.
Prosecutors say multiple witnesses reported that Naquin was vocal about his dislike of Gruver, wanted him cut from the fraternity and played a central role in the hazing.
A former LSU student accused of negligent homicide in the fatal 2017 alcohol-related hazing of Phi Delta Theta pledge Max Gruver was "vocal" a…
Court documents filed previously in the case claim Naquin was warned by members of the fraternity — just days before Gruver died — to tone down his interactions with pledges. He was told his actions with pledges were extreme and dangerous, the documents allege.
Higginbotham ruled last year that prosecutors can use that evidence at Naquin’s trial. The judge also said jurors can hear testimony that Naquin tore up Gruver's bid card and said he was not a good fit for the fraternity.
Higginbotham also ruled last week that the jury to be selected this week will be allowed to hear that Naquin allegedly deleted hundreds of files from his phone in November 2017 just hours after the judge signed a search warrant for the phone and ordered Naquin to preserve its contents. The deletion of files forms the basis of the obstruction of justice charge.
A former LSU fraternity member accused in the 2017 hazing death of Max Gruver had obstructed justice during the criminal investigation by dele…
The judge also previously gave prosecutors permission to introduce evidence of other alleged incidents involving Naquin and Phi Delta Theta pledges in the days and weeks preceding Gruver's death.
One of those incidents was 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. Another incident was 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's defense team, citing statements from then-fraternity members, alleged in a court filing earlier this year that Gruver drank excessively and smoked marijuana in the four weeks leading up to his death. The motion asked that the evidence be allowed at the trial.
Prosecutors and Gruver's parents called the defense motion victim-shaming.
After the defense lawyer for a former LSU student accused in the hazing death of Max Gruver described Gruver in court filings as an out-of-con…
"Time and again fraternities hurt and kill others by hazing and try to push the blame elsewhere. No more," Stephen and Rae Ann Gruver said earlier this year after the defense motion was filed.
"Were it not for the hazing and actions of people who were supposed to be his brothers, our son would be alive today," the Gruvers added.
A state appeals court ruled last week that Naquin's lawyers can present to the jury evidence of Gruver's voluntarily alcohol and marijuana use on the date he died — but not any evidence that Gruver consumed alcohol or smoked marijuana in the days and weeks before his death.
But the Louisiana Supreme Court overruled the appellate court on Saturday, saying the defense can present evidence of Gruver's alleged heavy drinking and marijuana use in the month prior to his death.
Allegations that LSU fraternity pledge Max Gruver voluntarily drank alcohol and used marijuana the night he died in 2017 can be used by Matthe…
The misdemeanor hazing charge to which Isto and Gott pleaded no contest carries up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $100, according to the law in place at the time of the Gruver hazing.
Last year, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law the Max Gruver Act and other anti-hazing bills meant to curb hazing and increase penalties.
Under HB 78, the Gruver Act, people who participate in hazing activities that result in death when the victim's blood alcohol level is at least 0.30% would face up to five years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. Hazing that doesn't lead to death would be subject to fines of up to $1,000 and six months in prison.
With a mixture of celebration and sorrow, the Gruvers on Thursday stood alongside Gov. John Bel Edwards as he signed into law a set of anti-ha…
Organizations — fraternities, sororities, associations, social clubs, athletic teams and similar groups on college or high school campuses — that knowingly allow hazing could also face fines of up to $10,000.
Phi Delta Theta has been banned from LSU's campus until at least 2033 as a result of the probe into the events leading to Gruver's death.