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Matthew Naquin

UPDATE: The jury has returned a verdict.


A six-person jury is deliberating the fate of a former LSU student charged with negligent homicide in the 2017 alcohol-related hazing death of 18-year-old Phi Delta Theta fraternity pledge Max Gruver.

Prosecutor Morgan Johnson told jurors in her closing argument Wednesday that Gruver died following a Sept. 13, 2017, hazing ritual because of the criminal negligence of Matthew Naquin, who “peppered” him with “lethal” 190-proof alcohol.

“He enjoyed having power. He enjoyed seeing people suffer,” she argued, adding that Naquin “took advantage” of a vulnerable young man.

Naquin’s lead attorney, John McLindon, told the jury that Gruver’s death is tragic but said Naquin did not kill him. He acknowledged that Naquin was the most boisterous Phi Delta Theta member taking part in the hazing ritual that night.

“That’s probably why he’s sitting in that chair right there because he was the loudest,” McLindon said.

McLindon also spoke about free will and said Gruver “drank excessively and voluntarily on a virtually daily basis” in the weeks before his his death. He said there was no force or coercion at the hazing ritual.

Johnson, however, said drinking in social settings versus at a hazing event is like comparing apples to oranges.

A unanimous verdict is required to find Naquin guilty of negligent homicide.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.