Jury selected for negligent homicide trial of former LSU fraternity member
UPDATE: Matthew Naquin entered a not guilty plea to the obstruction charge after more than 700 files were deleted from his phone the same day a search warrant was issued.
A jury of six has been selected for Naquin's trial. Two alternate jurors have also been selected in the event that one or more of the jurors cannot participate.
Opening statements are set for Tuesday morning.
BATON ROUGE - After nearly two years, jury selection will begin in the trial of 21-year-old Matthew Naquin who faces a negligent homicide charge in the 2017 possible hazing death of LSU freshman Max Gruver.
Matthew Naquin has arrived to court for his negligent homicide trial in Sept. 2017 death of Max Gruver. Jury selection will start this morning @WBRZ— Johnston vonSpringer (@johnstonvon) July 8, 2019
Gruver died in September 2017 following a night of heavy drinking at the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house. It's believed that "bible study" was a hazing ritual done to pledges.
It was later learned that Gruver had a blood-alcohol level of 0.495%, more than six times the legal limit in Louisiana.
Prosecutors argue that Naquin targeted Gruver specifically in order to prevent him from joining the fraternity. Following the incident, LSU's chapter of Phi Delta Theta was banned from campus until 2023.
Additionally, a new law went into effect known as the "Gruver Act." People who participate in hazing activities that result in death could face a fine of up to $10,000 and up to five years in prison. Hazing that does not result in death would lead to a lesser punishment.
Over the weekend, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that the defense will be able to bring up allegations of Max Gruver's drug and alcohol use in the weeks leading up to his death. The decision comes after a first circuit court ruled that the allegations Gruver voluntarily drank and did drugs on the day of his death in September 2017 would be admissible. It was also determined that anything about his alleged drug use or drinking during this time at LSU before that fatal hazing ritual wouldn't be admitted.
The judge also ruled that the prosecution will get to tell the jury about the more than 700 files that were deleted from Naquin's phone the same day a search warrant was issued.
Jurors will also get to hear of several instances before the hazing ritual where Naquin was allegedly rough on pledges.
A six-person jury will determine the verdict in the case. They must come to a unanimous decision.