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Two former fraternity members plead no contest in LSU hazing case

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UPDATE: Ryan Isto and Sean Paul Gott have been sentenced. Read the full update here: http://www.wbrz.com/news/two-more-former-fraternity-members-get-jail-time-in-2017-lsu-hazing-death-122513

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BATON ROUGE - Almost a year since the hazing-related death of Max Gruver, the four men who were indicted were back in court.

Sean Gott and Ryan Isto have pleaded no contest to the hazing charges brought against them, but they will not be sentenced until Patrick Forde and Matthew Naquin's cases have been resolved. Forde has agreed to testify, however the status of his charges is unchanged at this time.

The proceeding so far have included emotional appeals from Max Gruver's parents.

"Max's death was not an accident because hazing is not an accident," said Rae Ann, Max's mother. "We no longer celebrate holidays or birthdays."

The judge has also agreed to allow some attorneys involved in Naquin's negligent homicide case to hear the grand jury testimony. In addition, the state has asked the judge to compel Sean Gott to provide the passcode of his phone that was seized through a search warrant. In court last month, Gott was asked for the code but refused to give it up.

The State argues that Gott communicated with Phi Delta Theta pledges through that cell phone prior to the September 13 "Bible Study" ritual where Gruver was forced to drink excessive amounts of liquor.

The State also asked to admit additional instances of hazing and evidence against Matthew Naquin, the only one charged with negligent homicide.

The State argues that the ritual was not Naquin's first instance of aggressive behavior towards new members. A motion filed last week claims that Naquin berated and yelled at a pledge during a social event last August. He also allegedly took part in a Hurricane Day event where new members were forced to drink alcohol while cleaning the fraternity house. 

The weekend before Gruver's death, Naquin is accused of shooting pledges with an airsoft gun at the fraternity's tailgating spot that new members were forced to reserve. 

Two days before Gruver's death, the chapter board discussed Naquin's actions that the State calls "extreme and dangerous." They chose to warn him at the next chapter meeting, threatening further punishment if the behavior continued.

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