BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Four of the ten men arrested in connection to the alleged hazing death of Maxwell Gruver, 18, have been indicted on criminal charges six months after the pledge's death.
Sean-Paul Gott, Ryan Isto, and Patrick Forde face misdemeanor hazing charges, while Matthew Naquin still faces a felony negligent homicide charge. As for the other six, a grand jury pretermitted on charges for them, meaning based on the available evidence, jurors felt there was not enough to move forward.
"It does seem a little unfair because there were a lot of boys up there all of who engaged in the same conduct as Matthew," said attorney, John McLindon.
McLindon represents Naquin and says it's important people keep an open mind. He points out that Thursday's decision was not a ruling on guilt or innocence and a grand jury only hears from prosecutors to reach an indictment. "They didn't hear from the defense. No one's in there to cross-examine the witnesses and so at a real trial in an open court, the whole story's going to come out," said McLindon.
"The grand jury worked very hard," said District Attorney Hillar Moore. "They considered the evidence against ten different individuals."
Moore stopped short of calling the decision a victory, saying there are folks on both sides of the case hurting. "Look what happened to these parents, look what happened to this young man, and now look what's potentially going to happen to these individuals that participated," said Moore.
"It's a terrible tragedy what happened, but Matthew Naquin is not guilty of negligent homicide and I'm prepared to prove that to a jury," said McLindon.
If convicted of hazing, three of the men could face between 10 to 30 days in jail and/or a $100 fine. Naquin could spend up to five years in prison.
Franz Borghardt's client, Sean Pennison, was arrested, but not indicted. He says they were not surprised by the outcome. "We have cooperated from day one," said Borghardt. "We have said from day one that we don't think that Sean did anything wrong and based on the review of the evidence, I think the DA's office agreed with us."
As the case now moves ahead, Borghardt says everyone involved will be forever changed by the situation.
"You can't unring the bell and all of them are going to be dealing with this for the rest of their lives," said Borghardt.
McLindon says they plan to enter a not guilty plea as soon as possible for his client and he looks forward to proving Naquin's innocence in court.