Sentencing for Matthew Naquin in Max Gruver case delayed due to family illness

Sentencing for Matthew Naquin in Max Gruver case delayed due to family illness
Matthew Naquin (Source: EBRSO)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A jury has decided ex-LSU student, Matthew Naquin, is guilty of negligent homicide in the 2017 hazing death of fraternity pledge, Max Gruver. The six-person jury reached a verdict Wednesday, July 17, 2019.

Naquin was taken to the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison immediately after the trial. He was released from prison around 3 p.m. on a $10,000 bond.

Matthew Naquin bonds out of the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on July 17, 2019, hours after being convicted by a jury on the charge of negligent homicide in the 2017 hazing death of LSU freshman fraternity pledge Max Gruver.
Matthew Naquin bonds out of the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on July 17, 2019, hours after being convicted by a jury on the charge of negligent homicide in the 2017 hazing death of LSU freshman fraternity pledge Max Gruver.

Naquin faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. His sentencing has been delayed. It was originally supposed to take place within 60 days of the guilty verdict, however, on Tuesday, Oct. 15, a judge delayed the sentencing because one of Naquin’s relatives was hospitalized with a serious illness. Sentencing is now set for Nov. 20.

Our hearts ache for the Gruvers and all those impacted by this trial and the verdict reached today. Hazing is an irresponsible and dangerous activity that we do not tolerate at LSU. These tragedies, and the penalties that follow, can be prevented, and we have been working diligently to put more safeguards, education and reporting outlets in place for our students regarding hazing. Today’s verdict shows that allegations of hazing are fully investigated, and those found responsible face criminal charges.
LSU Spokesperson Ernie Ballard

Outside the courtroom following the verdict, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said there are no winners in this case. He praised the work on investigators, who had worked “extremely hard on an emotional case.”

DA Hillar Moore addresses the media after Matthew Naquin was found guilty of negligent homicide in Max Gruver's 2017 hazing death
DA Hillar Moore addresses the media after Matthew Naquin was found guilty of negligent homicide in Max Gruver's 2017 hazing death (Source: WAFB)

Moore added that while the Gruver case was not a metaphorical indictment toward Louisiana State University, he hopes changes will be made through the university and the collegiate system.

“The goal here is to stop hazing of any sort, but to truly stop hazing that may lead to a death,” Moore said in a media scrum outside the courthouse.

The parents of Max Gruver, who were also outside the courthouse, hope the case will send a message to the nation.

Stephen and Rae Ann Gruver
Stephen and Rae Ann Gruver (Source: WAFB)

“Hazing should not exist. It is dangerous, and we have to all work together to bring an end to hazing, to start with education and to let everyone know that it will not be tolerated” said Stephen Gruver, father of Max Gruver.

Prosecutors also charged Naquin with obstruction of justice after he allegedly deleted hundreds of files from his cell phone less than an hour after a search warrant was issued for them. However, prosecutors said they won’t go forward on that charge until the negligent homicide case is resolved.

On July 6, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that witness statements filed by Naquin’s defense, alleging Gruver drank alcohol and smoked marijuana excessively during his month on LSU’s campus, was used as evidence.

Gruver died from alcohol poisoning in September of 2017 after a hazing ritual called “Bible Study,” in which Phi Delta Theta pledges were required to chug hard liquor if they wrongly answered questions about the fraternity.

An autopsy revealed Gruver’s blood alcohol level to be more than six times the legal limit to drive in Louisiana at the time of his death. THC, the chemical found in marijuana, was also found in his system.

The defense team’s filing indicated Gruver’s roommate said Max was “sober for maybe five of those nights” during the month he lived on LSU’s campus. One witness told investigators Gruver appeared more intoxicated at another event other than on the night he died.

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