15 Men Charged in Connection With Death of Fraternity Pledge

Fifteen males had been charged in reference to the alcohol-poisoning loss of life of a Washington State University scholar, prosecutors mentioned on Wednesday, after a yearlong police investigation right into a fraternity pledging case from 2019.

The males had been members of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity when the scholar, a freshman named Samuel Martinez, died in 2019, in response to Denis Tracy, the prosecutor for Whitman County. The males, whose ages now vary from 20 to 23, had been every charged with supplying liquor to minors, Mr. Tracy mentioned in an announcement.

The expenses relate to an investigation by the Pullman Police Department into the loss of life of Mr. Martinez, who was 19 when he pledged to affix the fraternity. Mr. Martinez died from alcohol poisoning on Nov. 12, 2019, after he took half in a fraternity occasion, in response to the prosecutor’s workplace.

The household of Mr. Martinez mentioned in an announcement: “While the charges may lead to some level of accountability, this is not justice. It does not bring us closure.”

The household mentioned it was “deeply disappointed” that hazing expenses weren’t filed. “The Pullman Police Department allowed the statute of limitations for that charge to expire,” the household’s assertion mentioned. “That’s despite the fact that Pullman Police found substantial evidence of hazing that would have supported hazing charges.”

The police investigation, which Mr. Tracy described as “extensive,” was turned over to his workplace in February. He mentioned in an announcement that Washington State requires any felony cost of hazing be filed inside a 12 months. “Since the police investigation took over a year,” he mentioned, “I did not make a determination regarding hazing.”

Chief Gary Jenkins of the Pullman Police informed the information station KREM-TV earlier this 12 months that the investigation took over a 12 months as a result of it concerned a big quantity of interviews, some witnesses had left the realm consequently of breaks from faculty, and since of challenges accessing a cellphone for proof.

Mr. Martinez’s household mentioned he and one other pledge had been ordered to complete a half-gallon of rum between them and his blood-alcohol content material was measured at 0.372 after his loss of life, almost 5 instances the authorized restrict.

Furnishing liquor to minors is a gross misdemeanor that carries a most sentence of one 12 months in jail and as much as a $5,000 high quality.

The household of Mr. Martinez mentioned these potential penalties had been “insulting compared to the devastating consequences of their actions, which directly led to Sam’s death, and the loss we are living with for the rest of our lives.”

The defendants might be summoned to look in the Whitman County District Court, in response to Mr. Tracy. It was not instantly clear whether or not they had legal professionals.

Last 12 months, the household of Mr. Martinez filed a wrongful death lawsuit in opposition to the college and the fraternity. Jolayne Houtz, Mr. Martinez’s mom, mentioned on Thursday that the lawsuit continues to maneuver ahead, although half of it’s on maintain pending the decision of the felony expenses. A trial date is about for March 2022, she mentioned.

A spokesman for Washington State University declined on Thursday to touch upon the fees. The fraternity didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

In an op-ed in The Seattle Times, Ms. Houtz known as for an finish to hazing traditions on school campuses. “The college fraternity system,” she wrote, “is long overdue for the kind of reckoning many other American institutions now face for enabling and perpetuating violence, injustice and destructive behavior.”

The expenses are the most recent in a sequence of instances involving critical accidents or the loss of life of school college students at fraternity-related occasions across the nation.

In April, eight males had been indicted in reference to the loss of life of Stone Foltz, 20, a sophomore at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Mr. Foltz died in March, days after he had attended an off-campus fraternity occasion; faculty officers mentioned in an announcement that they had been “aware of alleged hazing activity involving alcohol consumption.”

In November, a member of Louisiana State University’s Phi Kappa Psi chapter was charged in an off-campus hazing occasion that left one other scholar on life help, the authorities mentioned. In that case, prosecutors filed a dozen misdemeanor counts and one felony rely of felony hazing, and one rely of failure to hunt help after a scholar was dropped off at a hospital with extreme alcohol poisoning.

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