Max Gruver’s parents say former LSU student Matthew Naquin's decision to drop his appeal and begin serving his negligent homicide prison term in the 2017 alcohol-related hazing death of their 18-year-old son is a "form of justice."
Naquin, 21, of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, was convicted in mid-July and sentenced in late November. The ex-Phi Delta Theta member began serving his 2½-year term Friday.
A former LSU student and ex-Phi Delta Theta member was convicted of negligent homicide Wednesday in the 2017 alcohol-related hazing death of 1…
"Since losing our son Max to the cruelty of hazing, we have fought to honor his legacy by achieving some form of justice and working to prevent this tragedy from impacting other families," Stephen and Rae Ann Gruver said in a written statement released over the weekend.
"Nothing will bring Max back, but we hope that as Naquin enters his sentence, he begins to understand and show remorse for all that he has taken from us and this world," the Gruvers added.
Gruver, of Roswell, Georgia, had been at LSU only a month when he died of alcohol poisoning and aspiration in what authorities described as a hazing ritual — dubbed "Bible study" — at the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house.
Gruver and other Phi Delta Theta pledges were told to chug 190-proof liquor the night of Sept. 13, 2017, if they gave wrong answers to questions about the fraternity or could not recite the Greek alphabet.
Naquin had been free on an appeal bond until Friday, when he reported to prison.
"Matthew just wanted to go in and get it started and move forward with his life," Naquin's trial attorney, John McLindon, said Tuesday.
Naquin also is charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly deleting hundreds of files from his phone during the criminal investigation into Gruver's death and after a search warrant had been issued for the phone.
Marci Blaize, who also represents Naquin, said the expectation is that the state will dismiss the obstruction charge now that Naquin has decided to drop his appeal of his negligent homicide conviction and report to prison.
Blaize said an agreement with the state is being finalized.
Two former LSU students and ex-Phi Delta Theta members who pleaded no contest to misdemeanor hazing in the 2017 alcohol-related death of frate…
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said his office anticipates putting an agreement on the record next week before state District Judge Beau Higginbotham. The agreement calls for Naquin to waive his constitutional right to an appeal and his right to seek post-conviction relief, Moore stated.
"In consideration of this the state will dismiss the obstruction-of-justice charges," he added.
Naquin was one of four former LSU students and ex-Phi Delta Theta members indicted on charges stemming from Gruver’s death. The other three — Ryan Isto, Sean-Paul Gott and Patrick Forde — were charged with misdemeanor hazing.
Isto, who was Naquin's roommate at LSU, and Gott, of Lafayette, pleaded no contest in 2018 and were sentenced to 30 days in jail. The case against Forde was dropped last month. Prosecutors said he gave them their “first real glimpse” into what happened the night Gruver died.
A former LSU student and ex-Phi Delta Theta member who gave prosecutors their “first real glimpse” into what happened the night pledge Max Gru…
Forde testified at Naquin's trial that he saw an obnoxiously loud Naquin hand Gruver a bottle of 190-proof liquor and order him to chug from it the night the freshman later died of alcohol poisoning at the fraternity house. But Forde said Naquin wasn’t the only Phi Delta Theta member who ordered pledges to drink alcohol that night.
Naquin is serving his sentence at Elyan Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel. He will be on probation for three years once he is released.
Negligent homicide is not considered a crime of violence in Louisiana, so Naquin will be eligible to seek parole after serving 25% — or 7½ months — of his 30-month prison term. He could end up serving even less time than that if he completes certain classes and programs in prison.
Phi Delta Theta is banned from the LSU campus until at least 2033 as a result of the probe into the events leading to Gruver's death.