The last moments of an LSU fraternity pledge's life

The last moments of an LSU fraternity pledge's life
Maxwell Gruver (Source: Facebook)
Maxwell Gruver (Source: Facebook)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Recent court filings detail the last moments of Maxwell Gruver's life and expose the secret hazing rituals that caused his death at an LSU fraternity house on Sept. 13.

LSU Police Department arrest warrants indicate detectives interviewed the Phi Delta Theta active members and learned that the actives summoned their pledges to the fraternity house for "Bible Study" at about 10 p.m. on Sept. 13.

"Bible Study" is the term the actives used to describe a hazing ritual in which they quiz pledges on facts about the fraternity, and if they answer incorrectly, the pledges are made to drink alcohol. At some point after midnight, Gruver had become "highly intoxicated," according to the arrest warrant.

Some of the actives laid Gruver on a couch and then left for the night. Several members that live in the house checked on him throughout the night and last saw him still passed out at about 3 a.m.

At around 9 a.m. on Sept. 13, several of the actives checked Gruver's pulse and found it to be weak. They "could not tell if he was breathing" and decided to take him to the emergency room.

The actives told police that no further hazing nor drinking occurred with Gruver that night.

LSUPD interviews with the pledges revealed more details about the hazing that occurred.

According to the arrest warrants, active member Sean Pennison took the pledges cell phones as soon as they showed up at the house. The pledges were each given a cup of lemonade as a "chaser" to drink with a bottle of 190-proof Diesel liquor.

Several pledges told detectives that actives Matthew Alexander Naquin, Sean-Paul Gott and Ryan Isto and former member Patrick Forde came down from the second floor and told the pledges to form a single file and go upstairs.

"As they went upstairs, Gott threw mustard and hot sauce on the pledges," the arrest warrant states.

Once upstairs, the pledges were made to line up in the hallway and place their nose and toes against the wall. The lights were off with a strobe light flashing and loud music playing. The actives commenced with the "Bible Study" hazing, telling the pledges to drink from a bottle of liquor for each wrong answer.

The actives then made them do "wall sits" while members "walked across their knees." They also made the pledges hold out their pledge book, a small book with the history of the fraternity, and the actives "would stand on the book while the pledges were told to hold them up."

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All pledges interviewed and some actives told detectives that Naquin was the "most aggressive by far during the hazing event," the warrant reads.

One active, identified in the warrant as "Active Member 1," tried telling Naquin and Gott to "cut it out" because he felt it was getting out of hand. Another, identified as "Active Member 2," stated he told Naquin to "slow it down" several times but was ignored.

A third active, "Active Member 3," told detectives he could hear Naquin yelling "pledge drink" and telling the pledges to take a "pull" of the liquor.

Towards the end of the event, the pledges had to go down the line reciting the Greek alphabet. "Active Member 3" stated he believes Gruver kept messing up the alphabet and Naquin was "forcing" him to drink each time he messed up.

One pledge told police he felt that Naquin was yelling at Gruver more than the others and that Naquin did not like Gruver. He said Naquin told him several days before that he wanted to "cut" Gruver from the pledge process.

Another pledge, who was next to Gruver during the hazing ritual, told detectives that Gruver was made to drink at least 10 to 12 "pulls" of the 190-proof Diesel, while most of the other pledges drank only 3 to 4. This same pledge stated that Naquin, Gott and Isto were mad at Gruver for always being late and made him drink because of it.

Police allege Naquin, 19, was the organizer and most aggressive participant of the hazing event. He is charged with negligent homicide and hazing. Naquin's bond amount was set at $10,000.

Nine other actives face charges of hazing. They include:

Zachary Castillo, 19, of Gretna, La (charge of hazing)

Elliott Easton, 20, of New Orleans, La (charge of hazing)

Patrick Forde, 20, Westwood, MA (charge of hazing)

Sean Paul Gott, 21, of Lafayette, La (charge of hazing)

Zachary Hall, 21, of Charlotte, NC (charge of hazing)

Ryan Isto, 18, of Canada, (charge of hazing)

Hudson Kirkpatrick, 19, of Baton Rouge, La (charge of hazing)

Sean Pennison, 21, of Mandeville, La (charge of hazing)

Nicholas Taulli, 19, of Cypress, TX (charge of hazing)

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