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Newsletter > January 2004 > "NEW HAMPSHIRE DEATH"
NEW HAMPSHIRE DEATH
Robert Manley, Manley Burke
On October 20, 2003, a sorority woman at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire died when a sport utility vehicle with ten women inside went off the road. Initial reports indicated that six of the women were blindfolded. The women were members and pledges of Sigma Kappa Omega, a local group that was formed in April 2003, when a group of women separated from Alpha Sigma Alpha. The deceased student was Kelly Nester of Coventry, Rhode Island.
The police are investigating to determine whether or not hazing was involved. The reports that six of the ten women were blindfolded raised the suspicion that hazing was involved. There was no blindfold on Kelly Nester when she was found on the ground having been thrown from the vehicle.
The horrible facts speak for themselves. This is one more illustration that thoughtless frolics can be fatal. In New Hampshire, hazing is a crime. The County Attorney’s Office was investigating the matter to determine whether any criminal charges will be brought against any of the women. If, in fact, hazing was being practiced and criminal charges are brought, it is possible that the criminal charges could include an accusation of manslaughter. When someone is killed during the commission of a criminal act, the unlawful intent to do the criminal act can carry over to the death. This serves as a basis for a charge of manslaughter.
In addition to the criminal charges, Plymouth State University initiated disciplinary proceedings against the four sorority members involved in the fatal crash. A hearing was scheduled for November 21, 2003, but that hearing was delayed by a court action filed by the four members. The court papers filed by the four women indicated that the scheduled hearing was too soon after the accident and that the four women were undergoing therapy. In addition, the women were concerned that the findings of the University’s hearing could be used in the criminal investigation. The court’s order will allow the University to proceed with its disciplinary proceeding after giving at least fourteen days notice to the women. In addition, counsel for the women will be allowed to attend the disciplinary hearings to protect the students’ rights against self-incrimination.
Fraternal Law will follow this matter and report on whether criminal charges are filed against these young women.