Eight active and two former members of the Phi Delta Theta chapter at LSU were booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Wednesday on charges in the wake of the death of a fraternity pledge last month.
Matthew Alexander Naquin, Zachary Antonio Castillo, Hudson Brandt Kirkpatrick, Elliot Donald Easton, Ryan Matthew Isto, Nicholas Michael Taulli, Zachary Tower Hall, Sean Andrew Pennison, Patrick Andrew Forde and Sean-Paul Gott were charged with one count each of hazing. One of the 10, Naquin, was also charged with negligent homicide in Maxwell Gruver’s death.
Gruver, an 18-year-old freshman from Roswell, Georgia, died Sept. 14 in what officials have called a hazing-related death. Toxicology reports found high levels of alcohol in his blood stream, as well as the presence of THC, a substance found in marijuana.
The full autopsy report with the cause of death has not yet been released.
The arrest documents and other investigation records released today detail an organized hazing “event,” with Naquin as the most active participant with help from Gott. Through interviews detectives say they learned that around 10 p.m. on Sept. 13, pledges of the fraternity were called to the fraternity house for “Bible Study.” Investigators learned that “Bible Study” is where the pledges are asked questions about the fraternity and, if they answer incorrectly, are made to drink alcohol.
According to the arrest warrant for Naquin, pledges were told to make a single file line and go upstairs. As they went upstairs, Gott threw mustard and hot sauce on them.
“(Active Member 3) stated that he could hear Naquin yelling ‘pledge drink and telling pledges to take a pull,” according to the warrant. One witness “Stated that he believes Gruver kept messing up the alphabet and Naquin was ‘forcing’ him to drink each time he messed up.”
According to the warrant, one of the other pledges also witnessed Naquin targeting Gruver during the hazing event.
“(Pledge 1) stated that pledges were told to take 3 to 5 second ‘pulls’ of Diesel,” according to the warrant. “They were also told to do ‘wall sits’ and ‘planks’… Stated he could hear Gruver messing up the Greek alphabet and Naquin telling him to drink.”
One witness told investigators that at some point after midnight Gruver was highly intoxicated. The witness and several other fraternity members laid Gruver on the couch and left for the night.
That witness told investigators that when he returned to the fraternity house at around 9 a.m. the next day, several fraternity members checked Gruver’s pulse and found that is was weak. They also could not tell if he was breathing.
That is when the witness said fraternity members decided to send Gruver to the hospital, according to the documents.
“On 09/14/2017, LSU Police was contacted by the East Baton Rouge Parish Corner’s Office that a male LSU student, later identified as Maxwell Gruver, was transported by two other male subjects to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital,” according to the report. “Gruver was pronounced dead at the hospital due to what appeared to be an overdose of alcoholic beverages.”
According to the East Baton Rouge Coroner’s Office report, Gruver’s blood alcohol content level post-mortem was .496 percent, more than six times the legal limit.