Former fraternity member found guilty of negligent homicide in LSU hazing death
BATON ROUGE - A jury has found former LSU student Matthew Naquin guilty of negligent homicide in the 2017 hazing death of freshman Max Gruver.
The six-person jury came to its unanimous verdict less than an hour after convening. Naquin now faces a potential sentence of up to 5 years in prison.
"It won't bring Max back, and it's not something we're ever going to be happy about. But at the same time it's justice for our son," said Max's mother Rae Ann, just moments after the verdict came down.
An LSU spokesperson released the following statement Wednesday afternoon.
“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.”
Attorneys representing Naquin rested their case Wednesday morning, more than a week after proceedings first began July 8.
Naquin is accused of forcing Gruver to drink more than any other pledge, ultimately leading to his death, during a hazing event called "bible study" in September 2017. He's also accused of tampering with potential evidence by deleting hundreds of files from his phone.
The former Phi Delta Theta member's defense made a point of trying to pin Gruver's death on the pledge's own behavior, including his alleged drinking problem and marijuana use. They also argued that Gruver was never targeted by Naquin, and everyone thought Max was fine at the end of the night.
Prosecutors refuted the defense's claims, saying Naquin had "free will" and made his own choices.
Naquin will be sentenced in October. His defense team tells News 2 an appeal is likely.
He was released on bond Wednesday afternoon.