- Louisiana Legislature Amends Hazing Law to Impose stricter requirements.
- Jury convicts Matthew Naquin of negligent homicide in the death of Max Gruver
- LSU loses motion to dismiss the Gruver Estate’s Title IX Claims
Newsletter > July 2019 Special Edition > "Jury convicts Matthew Naquin of negligent homicide in the death of Max Gruver"
Jury convicts Matthew Naquin of negligent homicide in the death of Max Gruver
Timothy M. Burke, Manley Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org
On Wednesday, July 17, 2019, at the end of a six-day trial, a jury convicted Matthew Naquin of negligent homicide in the death of Max Gruver. Gruver died 2 years ago of alcohol poisoning after an alleged hazing incident at the Phi Delta Theta house at LSU.
For the six days of the trial both the parents of Max Gruver and the parents of Matthew Naquin sat in the courtroom listening to the arguments of the counsel and watching the parade of witnesses each day. The testimony of more than two dozen pledges and, some current active members of the Chapter, described the “Bible Study” where pledges were lined up against the wall, asked questions and drank alcohol when they couldn’t answer correctly. The parties disputed whether that drinking was voluntary. The Baton Rouge Advocate reported that Gruver’s alcohol level was more than 6 times the legal limit to drive in Louisiana. That figure was consistent with the testimony of the toxicologist who testified at the trial.
Among the other witnesses at the trial were LSU administrators, police officers, the local coroner, and from the FBI, 2 special agents and a digital forensic examiner. The FBI witnesses dealt with the examination of Matthew Naquin’s cell phone, which Naquin had attempted to swipe clean of potentially incriminating evidence. Naquin faces of charges related to that alleged obstruction of justice charge which will be dealt with in a separate proceeding before a different Judge. All told more than 40 witnesses testified.
The defense, on behalf of Naquin, presented only 2 of the witnesses, those were Naquin’s roommate and very briefly one University Administrator.
The jury which heard that case was selected the day before the trial actually started from a pool of over 100 all of whom were in the courtroom. In the end, it was a racially diverse group of 4 men and 2 women who, after hearing all the evidence, unanimously found Naquin guilty.
Naquin will be sentenced on October 16, 2019. He faces up to five years in jail but could also end up simply with probation.
Following his conviction, Naquin was led out of the courtroom to the jail only to be released later that afternoon after a $10,000 bond was posted.
The Baton Rouge Advocate, in its post-conviction article reported that:
“Gruver’s parents, Steven and Rae Ann – said the verdict meant justice for their son and for Matthew Naquin, the young man found criminally negligent in their son’s death.”
CNN reported that Naquin’s lawyer, John McLindon, continued to argue Naquin’s innocence and quoted him saying “To pin this all on one guy was just really unfair.”
Three other members of the Chapter have been charged with misdemeanor hazing related to Gruver’s death. Two of those individuals pled no contest on July 26, 2019 were sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $500 – the maximum penalty the law provided for at the time of Gruver’s death. The charge against the third is yet to be resolved. All three testified in the Naquin trial.
Twenty years prior to Gruver’s death Phi Delta Theta adopted a national alcohol-free housing policy, which was in place at the time of Gruver’s death.
Virtually, immediately after learning of Gruver’s death, Phi Delta Theta shuddered its Chapter at LSU based on the Chapter’s violation of that policyThe university has announced that it will not consider allowing Phi Delta Theta to return to campus until at least until 2033.