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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.