BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A lawyer representing one of the suspects in the LSU hazing death of Max Gruver has asked prosecutors for more information about what is contained in an audiotape of LSU police officers discussing the Gruver case and other topics.
The officers who were talking about the case were apparently unaware their conversations were being recorded by a voice-activated recorder taken as evidence in the unrelated case of missing LSU student Michael Nickelotte last fall.
The WAFB 9NEWS Investigators received the audiotape through a public records request after an anonymous source tipped off WAFB about the existence of the audio.
Nickelotte used the voice-activated recorder for his studies. After an officer took the recorder from Nickelotte's LSU apartment and brought it back to the LSU police station, about two hours of police conversations were picked up by the recorder.
The recorder was eventually sent to Nickelotte's parents along with his other personal belongings. His mother pressed play on the device, hoping to hear her son's voice again but, instead, heard the disturbing conversations of LSU police. The Nickelotte family provided LSU with a copy of the recording last month.
In releasing the audio to WAFB last week, LSU redacted, or bleeped out, several minutes of the tape because it contained officers discussing evidence and other information about the ongoing criminal investigation of the Gruver case.
John McLindon, who represents the LSU student charged with negligent homicide in the Gruver case, sent a letter to District Attorney Hillar Moore's office Monday morning. McLindon says his letter requests that prosecutors turn over any portions of the audio "that I'm entitled to under the law."
Moore said Monday his office is in the process of reviewing the audio and transcribing what is said before making a determination about what, if anything, must be disclosed to the various defense attorneys in the Gruver case.
Four LSU students were indicted in the Gruver case. He died last year, around the same time as Nickelotte's death. Police allege Gruver was forced to drink large quantities of alcohol during a hazing ritual. The coroner said Gruver died of acute alcohol intoxication with aspiration. His blood alcohol level was 0.495% at the time of his death.
In the portions of the audiotape that were not redacted, LSU officers are heard discussing a wide range of topics. The officers discuss a website that shows people being burned alive and discuss their dislike of certain local TV news personalities. They are also critical of Baton Rouge police as well as two local judges. In talking about one judge, one officer says the judge once told him she did not think she should be signing a warrant but then picked up her pen and "signed it anyway".
In the portions where the officers discuss the Nickelotte case, one officer voices his displeasure about the father of the missing student sending a long email asking questions about the case. One officer is heard making light of the fact that Nickelotte's father asked the police to search the LSU lakes for his son's body. "The lake?" officer Kevin Scott asks another person. "It's four foot deep and bodies float. So unless, unless, unless the kid went and made him some concrete shoes, he uh, or concrete belt, he should be floating around if he's in the lake," Scott said on the recording.
Another officer is heard saying he was "about to start to writing up a fu**ing report for ol' missing boy."
Nickelotte was missing for nearly two weeks before his body was found in woods near LSU. His death was ruled a suicide.
LSU says LSU police officer Kevin Scott resigned over the recording but sources say Scott that is not accurate. Sources say Scott informed LSU he would be leaving long before the tape surfaced. LSU says four other officers received disciplinary letters because of the recording, including Capt. Steve Kazusky, Lt. David Abeles, and Officers Sara Drake and Chris Gresham.