A jury will be allowed to hear testimony that a former LSU student charged in the fatal 2017 alcohol-related hazing of Phi Delta Theta pledge Max Gruver was adamant about not wanting Gruver in the fraternity, a judge ruled Tuesday.
State District Judge Beau Higginbotham also said jurors can hear testimony that Matthew Alexander Naquin, who is scheduled to stand trial July 8 on negligent homicide, tore up Gruver's bid card and said the 18-year-old freshman from Roswell, Georgia, was not a good fit.
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…
Gruver died in September 2017 following a hazing ritual that senior Phi Delta Theta members called "Bible study," in which pledges were required to drink hard liquor when they gave incorrect answers to questions about the fraternity, authorities have alleged. Prosecutors say Naquin targeted Gruver. His blood alcohol level was 0.495 percent, or more than six times the legal limit to drive in Louisiana, an autopsy showed.
Higginbotham also heard arguments Tuesday from prosecutor Morgan Johnson and Naquin's attorney, John McLindon, on the hot-button issue of whether Naquin can be ordered to turn over the passcode to his confiscated cellphone.
The judge signed a search warrant for the phone in November 2017, and the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office seized it. But authorities have been unable to unlock the phone to access its contents.
McLindon argued that Naquin, 20, of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, is asserting his 5th Amendment right to remain silent and not incriminate himself. He also said the passcode issue carries with it “huge implications as to privacy.”
“This isn’t just a box with documents in it,” McLindon told Higginbotham. “It’s your entire life.”
An ex-LSU student charged with negligent homicide in the September 2017 alcohol-related hazing death of fraternity pledge Max Gruver is vigoro…
Johnson told the judge that the state isn’t interested in Naquin’s entire life, just his cellphone records from shortly before Gruver died until shortly after his death.
“The state is not asking to invade Mr. Naquin’s privacy,” he said.
Johnson also argued that the valid search warrant "extinguished" Naquin's privacy rights to the phone contents sought by prosecutors.
Higginbotham, who said the issues raised by Naquin have not been decided by any court in Louisiana, said he will rule on the matter Jan. 28.
Naquin’s former roommate, Ryan Matthew Isto, pleaded no contest in September to misdemeanor hazing in the case and agreed to testify at Naquin’s trial. He has told prosecutors that Naquin was “vocal” about his desire to “cut” Gruver throughout the pledge period. In a statement played in court Tuesday, Isto told Johnson that Naquin stated Gruver was “not a good fit” but did not specify why he felt that way.
Two former LSU students pleaded no contest Thursday to misdemeanor hazing in the alcohol-related death of freshman fraternity pledge Max Gruve…
Isto, 19, of Butte, Montana, also said he witnessed Naquin tear up Gruver’s bid card.
McLindon said after court that the public has heard only half of the story to this point.
“The jury’s going to hear both sides of the story. They’ll get the rest of the story,” he stressed.
Gruver’s father, Stephen Gruver, was in Higginbotham’s courtroom Tuesday but chose not to comment afterward.
Another ex-LSU student, Sean-Paul Gott, 22, of Lafayette, pleaded no contest in September to misdemeanor hazing and said he’ll testify at Naquin’s trial. A third former LSU student charged with hazing, Patrick Andrew Forde, 21, of Westwood, Massachusetts, has pledged to cooperate and testify truthfully at the trial. Prosecutors said they’ll decide later whether to prosecute Forde.
A former LSU student charged with negligent homicide in the Sept. 14 alcohol-related hazing death of freshman fraternity pledge Max Gruver was…