Four former LSU students plead not guilty on charges related to the hazing death of freshman Phi Delta Theta pledge Maxwell Gruver. Three entered their pleas for misdemeanor hazing charges, and one for charges of negligent homicide.

Nineteenth Judicial District Court Judge Beau Higginbotham set a trial date of Sep. 6 for the three former students accused of hazing: Sean-Paul Gott, Patrick Andrew Forde and Ryan Matthew Isto. The judge did not set a trial date for Matthew Alexander Naquin, who was arraigned on a negligent homicide charge.

A grand jury indicted the four defendants on March 15. East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors presented the grand jury with evidence of possible charges against five other individuals for which no indictment was issued.

Naquin's Lawyer, John McLindon, believes his client is being unfairly singled out.

"I believe there is a problem with alcohol at LSU, but it is not unique to LSU," McLindon said. "It's a bigger problem than Matthew Naquin. They're acting like this was his fault when there is a bigger problem with use of alcohol on college campuses."

LSUPD arrested 10 individuals on Oct. 11 on hazing charges, with Naquin receiving an additional charge of negligent homicide.

In addition to Naquin, Forde, Isto, and Gott, LSUPD arrested Hudson Kirkpatrick, Zachary Hall, Elliott Eaton, Nicholas Taulli, Sean Pennison and Zachary Castillo. According to a press release from East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore's office, Moore's office declined to press any criminal charges against Pennsion. In March, the grand jury chose not to indict Nicholas Taulli and pretermitted charges against four other individuals. This means the jury can indict in the future should new evidence come to light.

Six of the 10 individuals are currently enrolled at the University. Naquin, Gott, and Isto are not currently enrolled and Forde was not enrolled at the time of the incident, according to Media Relations Director Ernie Ballard.

A misdemeanor hazing charge results in a fine between $10 to $100 and between 10 to 30 days in prison. Negligent homicide charges can result in a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison.


According to the police reports, several active members said the main members leading the hazing were Naquin, Isto and Gott, saying Naquin was the leader of the hazing event and the most aggressive. The report said that claim was supported during the course of all the interviews of both active members and pledges.

Several pledges said Naquin yelled, "Are you ready for 'Bible Study'?" He also said, "Y'all better do well. I'm already f*cked up," the reports said.

The pledges were told to make a single file line and go upstairs, where Gott threw mustard and hot sauce at the pledges, the reports said. Pledges were told to place their nose and toes to the wall in the hallway. Strobe lights flashed and loud music played as the lights were out.

One member said he told Naquin and Gott to "cut it out," because he felt it was getting out of hand, the reports said. That same member said Naquin was yelling and forcing pledges to consume liquor by taking "pulls." The pledges were consuming "Diesel," which is 190 proof liquor.

Another active member said he told Naquin and Gott to "slow it down" several times, but Naquin would not stop, the reports said.

According to the report, an active member said he heard Naquin yelling "pledge drink" and "take a pull."

Near the end of the event, the pledges were required to recite the Greek alphabet. In the reports, an active member said he believes Gruver kept messing up the alphabet and Naquin was "forcing" him to drink each time he messed up.

A pledge said they were required to take "pulls" of Diesel for three to five seconds. They were also told to do "wall sits" and "planks." According to the reports, the pledge said he felt Naquin and Gott targeted Gruver for being late to events. The pledge said he felt Naquin was taking it too far.

Another pledge said he felt Naquin was yelling at Gruver more and that Naquin did not like Gruver, the reports said. He said Naquin told the pledge several days before that Naquin wanted to "cut" Gruver from the pledge process.

An additional pledge was next to Gruver during the event. He said most pledges only took three to four pulls of Diesel, but Gruver took 10-12, the reports said. He said Isto, Naquin and Gott were mad at Gruver for always being late and made him drink more than the other pledges because of it. The pledge said he messed up the Greek alphabet five to six times and was forced to drink every time.

Members who lived in the fraternity's house said they checked on Gruver throughout the night, and he was still on the couch around 3 a.m. This is the last time he was checked on until 9 a.m., according to the reports.

East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner William "Beau" Clark said Gruver's cause of death was acute alcohol intoxication with aspiration. His alcohol level was .495 at his time of death.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Editor's Note: Sean Pennison is a former employee of Tiger TV in the LSU Office of Student Media.

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