BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled Saturday, July 6, that substance abuse allegations raised by the defense team of Matthew Naquin, a former LSU student accused in the death of fraternity pledge Max Gruver, can be used in court.
The issue came into question Friday, April 12, when a judge denied the defense team’s motion to include statements from numerous witnesses recorded by LSU Campus Police, the District Attorney’s Office, and LSU’s Student Accountability Office that indicated Gruver was a habitual drunk and excessive marijuana user, and drank alcohol and smoked marijuana excessively during the month before his death. The defense appealed that decision.
A state appeals court later ruled that those statements could be used as long as they were about Gruver’s substance use on the day of his death. The defense also appealed that decision.
The high court’s ruling Saturday means allegations of Gruver’s alleged habits dating back to well before the time of his death are admissible at Naquin’s upcoming trial.
“Any allegations about Max’s use of alcohol over a thirty day period when he was an eighteen year old incoming freshman, away from home, pledging a fraternity are irrelevant to what happened to Max Gruver on the night/morning when he was being hazed which lead to his death,” said East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore in response to the decision.
Gruver’s family previously described the defense using evidence beyond the day of his death as " victim shaming." They could not be reached for comment by the time this story was published.
Naquin will also face an obstruction of justice charge related to a motion filed by the state Friday, June 28 that claims nearly 700 files went missing 45 minutes after Naquin learned investigators had issued a search warrant for his phone.
Jury selection for the trial is expected to begin Monday, July 8.