Witnesses say fraternity members targeted pledge night before he died

10 people were arrested in the death of fraternity pledge Max Gruver Wednesday. In addition, troubling autopsy results indicated that Gruver had a blood alcohol level of .495 - extraordinarily high.

BATON ROUGE -- Court documents have provided new details about the night a Phi Delta Theta fraternity pledge at LSU died after he drank excessive amounts of alcohol.

According to the documents, witnesses said Matthew Naquin, the lone fraternity member booked for negligent homicide, targeted 18-year-old Matthew Gruver, who was pronounced dead the next morning.

Witnesses told Baton Rouge police that Gruver and about 18 to 20 other pledges were called to the fraternity house for “Bible Study” about 10 p.m. Sept. 13. “Bible Study” is a game where pledges are asked questions about the fraternity and if they answer incorrectly are forced to drink alcohol.

Police said one of Phi Delta Theta’s active members took the pledges’ cell phones when they arrived. The pledges were then given Solo cups of lemonade to use as a chaser, meant to wash away the taste of alcohol.

Unidentified pledges told police that Matthew Naquin, Sean-Paull Gott, Ryan Isto and Partick Forde then came downstairs.

“Are you ready for bible study,” Naquin allegedly said. “Y’all better do well, I’m already f***** up.”

Witnesses said the pledges formed a single file line and walked upstairs. As they went, Gott allegedly threw mustard and hot sauce on them, according to court documents.

The pledges were then allegedly told to line up in the hallway and place their nose and toes against the wall, according to the documents. The lights were then turned off and a strobe light was turned on. Loud music was played.

“Several of the pledges stated that there were several active members upstairs, but the main members doing the hazing were Naquin, Gott and Isto,” according to the documents. “All pledges interviewed and some active members stated that Naquin was the most aggressive by far during the hazing event.”

According to police interviews with multiple active fraternity members and pledges at the frat house that night, the pledges were forced to drink from a bottle of 190 proof Diesel every time they gave a wrong answer.

Gruver, who was pronounced dead the next morning with a blood alcohol content of .495, was forced to drink around four times as much alcohol as the other pledges according to one witness.

MORE: LSU pledge had .495 BAC at time of death; frat members arrested

Several witnesses interviewed said Naquin was targeting Gruver because he was “always late for events,” because Naquin “did not like Gruver” and because Naquin wanted to cut Gruver from the pledge process.

Gruver apparently passed out on a couch around midnight before the other pledges went home.

The next morning, around 9 a.m., one of the members checked on Gruver and discovered that his pulse and breathing were low. They took him to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy would later show that Gruver died of alcohol induced asphyxiation with a BAC of .495.

Ten people present that night were arrested and booked with hazing. One of them, Naquin, was also booked with negligent homicide.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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