Prosecutors: Fraternity member charged in hazing death performed 'mass deletion' of potential evidence
BATON ROUGE - State prosecutors say a former LSU fraternity member indicted in the hazing death of a freshman pledge went out of his way to delete hundreds of pictures and messages from his phone after a search warrant was signed for the device.
Matthew Naquin was re-arraigned in court Friday after his grand jury indictment for negligent homicide was dismissed out of concern over a recently-discovered jury pool glitch in East Baton Rouge Parish. Naquin was then formally charged through a bill of information from the district attorney's office.
In court, prosecutors revealed findings that Naquin had seemingly downloaded software that would allow him to perform a "mass deletion" of potentially incriminating files from his phone just days after he was made aware of a search warrant.
Data from Naquin's phone indicates he installed an application called 'CCleaner' which allows users to wipe a large amount of data quickly and easily. He received a text message from a 'Mama Naquin' Nov. 8, 2017, just days after the warrant was signed, which referenced whether Naquin could "scrub" some files.
"This came from Ms. [name omitted] can you help with this?????.......I have some hard drives I need the pics off and info scrubbed. Could Matthew do that?"
A reply was sent minutes later reading, "Possibly."
A phone call received about three hours later from "John McLindon," the same name as Naquin's attorney, was answered and lasted seven minutes. About 40 minutes later, prosecutors say metadata suggests roughly 693 files were wiped from the phone.
No texts or calls were sent or received in the time between the call with "John McLindon" and when the files were deleted. Naquin appeared to resume using his phone immediately after the data wipe.
The documents suggest "hundreds" of other files were seemingly erased, but there was no recoverable metadata to determine when they were deleted.
Naquin was booked for negligent homicide after the September 2017 hazing-related death of Max Gruver. Though Naquin's phone was handed over in November 2017, he refused to give up his passcode and prosecutors were unable to access its contents until the FBI intervened in March 2019.
Though he is not facing obstruction charges at this time, a hearing on whether the prosecution may use this activity as evidence in the trial is scheduled for next week. That trial is set to begin July 8.
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