The trial for the negligent homicide of Max Gruver began Tuesday between East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors and defense, Matthew Naquin, 21, and his lawyer John McLindon.
In the opening statements, the prosecution acknowledged that Gruver "had fun and took advantage of new freedoms," referring to alcohol and marijuana use. They also said that Phi Delta actives discussed terminating Naquin's membership due to his behavior, which all 20 pledges said was "over the top."
"Unfortunately, they didn't do it soon enough," said state attorney Morgan Johnson.
The defense started: "Max Gruver died, but nobody killed him."
Defense noted that Naquin did not plan the "bible study" and that pledges were aware that it was not mandatory. McLindon also said that Gruver chose to drink the alcohol, and that two witnesses testified that they saw Gruver drink out of a leftover Everclear bottle after the hazing ritual.
"When a young man dies, society wants to blame somebody," said the defense. "In this case, they pinned it on the loudest guy."
Opening statements concluded with defense by asking the jury not to create two tragedies by convicting Naquin.
Naquin faces up to five years in prison if convicted of negligent homicide. Following the trial, Naquin will be tried for obstruction of justice due to deleting hundreds of files from his phone following the approval of a search warrant for the device.