Skip to comments.Hazing Leads To Prison For Fraternity Brothers
Posted on 01/30/2007 5:43:52 AM PST by ShadowDancer
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Prosecutors rested their case in the Kappa Alpha Psi hazing trial Friday, while defense attorneys will begin questioning their witnesses on Oct. 9.
The trial is being delayed one week because of Yom Kippur on Monday and a separate schedule conflict for Judge Kathleen Dekker and some jury members. The key witness, Marcus Jones, 20, a former sophomore at Florida A&M University, testified in court for the better part of the morning. He identified Michael Morton, 23; Brian Bowman, 23; Cory Gray, 22; Marcus Hughes, 21 as the men who beat him with canes and punched him on Feb. 26 and 27. Jones said Jason Harris, 25, also was present at that time, but he didn't hit anyone.
But another witness, Kappa pledge and FAMU student contradicted Jones' statements. Melvin Hitchens, 20, said he didn't see the defendants at the initiation sessions where Jones was beaten and punched. He also said he was harassed by an assistant state attorney and a Leon County Sheriff's investigator during the initial investigation in April.
Defendants' family, friends and some Kappas lined courtroom benches in the morning. The case has drawn a lot of attention as the first trial since the Legislature passed the hazing bill in 2005.
So far, prosecutors have tried to prove that the defendants were present at the initiation sessions and that four of them beat Jones with canes.
Defense attorneys are focusing on pointing out contradictions in witness statements. They also are questioning the seriousness of the injuries Jones suffered and are trying to prove his family had a financial motive to press charges. Mark Jones, his father, denied these claims Thursday.
At the trial, Marcus Jones walked in the courtroom carrying a cushion, which he placed on a chair before sitting in the witness box. He was one of 27 men pledging the Alpha Xi chapter of the fraternity when they were taken to a warehouse as part of that process.
He described the beatings he suffered on Feb. 23 and 24 at a house in Tallahassee. At that time, he said, he couldn't see who was beating and punching him as the room was dark.
At the warehouse on Feb. 26, Jones said, he was caned around 90 times while blindfolded. After about two hours, the initiates removed their blindfolds and the defendants introduced themselves, he said. There was one more person, he said, who called himself "Grandfather X" or "Exodus". He wasn't an undergraduate, Jones said.
Before the blindfolds came off, Jones said, "Everything kinda stopped." He heard people say "bye" and "we will see you all later." But Jones said the defendants "seemed to be in charge of everything". The pledges were caned once again that night.
On Feb. 27, he said, he was caned about 60 times. Except this time the blindfolds came off right away.
Jones said he fainted that night. That's when Harris offered him water and "encouraged" him to get back into the line.
"It was the worst pain I ever felt," he said. "I never felt pain like that. Every time I think about it, I can't describe it."
Jones told the court that Harris gave pledges bananas. One banana would go 27 ways, he said. If one of them took a big bite, he would be punched and called "greedy," Jones said.
Responding to the defense's questions, Jones said, he lost his hearing during the beatings on Feb. 23 and 24. He also said he couldn't remember talking to FAMU police investigator John Cotton. Cotton testified Wednesday that Jones was unable to identify the people beating him.
Hitchens, however, testified that he didn't see any of the defendants on the nights Jones was beaten. "I wasn't looking. I was worried about myself," he said in court. He was looking at the ceiling and not making eye contact, as instructed, he said.
He also said he was harassed by assistant state attorney Neill Wade and LCSO detective Brice Google as he was being questioned in Wade's office in April. The terms one used to describe him made him feel "belittled." One of them also said Hitchens could face perjury charges.
Google, in his testimony, admitted he may have used an offensive term to describe some pledges, or "foolish" as far as the decisions they were making.
According to an article on that website, the same fraternity paid a $2.25 million judgment for another hazing incident in 1997.
The exact years I was in school there.
It's a shame about the race baiters down there. But that just shows me much hasn't changed.
It's clear from reading the articles that the "seriousness" of the hazing differed between the Kapppa Alpha Psi and the Sig Ep incidents. But that doesn't excuse what the Sig Eps allegedly did. The potential for serious injury was there.
Just out of curiousity, I'll have to go look up the new law and see how they differientiate between what qualifies for a felony and misdemeanor.
The Nu Mu chapter of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity has been suspended from the University of South Alabama campus pending an investigation into hazing allegations. Sources indicate a student sustained a ruptured spleen that could be related to the hazing incident and recently has undergone surgery in Birmingham because of this injury.
According to a press release issued by the University Friday afternoon, the suspension came after fraternity members reported that physical abuse was being perpetrated on newer members of the group by some older members, which is in violation of USA's anti-hazing policies. The TKE national organization has also suspended the chapter.
University of South Alabama police are remaining tight-lipped when it comes to the investigation of the Nu Mu chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) and the hazing activities in which that fraternity allegedly engaged.
Johnny Noel, a detective with the USA police force, told The Vanguard that the investigation could be a "months-long" process. A Jan. 10 campus police report indicated that TKE brothers used a wooden paddle and fists to beat Christopher Mims, a pledge, so badly that it ruptured Mims' spleen. According to the report, the injury was sustained after repeated blows to his midsection area.
University officials have conducted an investigation to find the true nature of the incident, and some officials feel that the allegations are completely out of character for this particular fraternity.
USA Vice President of Student Affairs Dale Adams told the Press-Register that TKE is the "goody-two-shoes" fraternity on campus, and USA Greek Adviser Emily Ulmer pointed out that TKE maintains the highest grade point average of any other fraternity on campus.
But that's where the discussion of the incident ends. USA Police Chief Normand Gamache refused to comment on the investigation for fear of tainting it, only saying that it will take so long because they want to be "very thorough." Noel also refused to comment any further on the matter.
That's exactly how they do it...unlike the days of slavery when white folks treated blacks like cattle....
Where is the NAACP when they're needed?! Hmmmmmmm.....
Last updated by Hank Nuwer on February 12, 2006.
Chico State University (California)
Chi Tau (college-banned chapter)
Eight men were charged with crimes in the death of pledge Matthew Carrington, 21. Convictions included one felony count for a sentence of one year in prison.
Lambda Phi Epsilon
University of California Irvine
Pledge death under investigation
Pledge Kenny Luong of Cal Poly Pomona died in August after competing in a football game with other pledges against members of the Irvine chapter. There were many more members than pledges in the roughly played game. The death is under investigation.
University of Texas
Lambda Phi Epsilon
Alcohol death of a pledge
Phanta “Jack” Phoummarath died of acute alcohol intoxication during a fraternity event. Toxicology ruling came January 2006.
Sigma Tau Gamma
Eastern Michigan University
Ecstasy and Alcohol Death
Keith Cholette went into convulsions and died at a house party.
UC San Diego
Delta Sigma Phi
Acidental death (alcohol and possibly drugs)
The dead youth was Daniel Ashenazy.
University of Florida
Kappa Sigma and Fellowship of Christian Athletes
Drunk Driving death
The dead youth was Christopher James Small.
University of Florida
Power Hour (21st birthday)
Kyle Fredrik Schuemann died in a celebration for his 22nd birthday.
The dead youth was Colin Boyarski, 19.
University of Texas
Lambda Phi Epsilon
Alcohol death of a pledge
Phanta “Jack” Phoummarath died of acute alcohol intoxication during a fraternity event.
(03-04) 04:00 PST Chico -- The last room Matthew Carrington ever walked into was the cold, dank cellar of the Chi Tau fraternity house, where a message etched into the wall read, "In the basement, no one can hear you scream."
It was the night of Feb. 2, and for five hours the 21-year-old Pleasant Hill man and a friend pledging the Chico fraternity were allegedly humiliated and doused with gallons of cold water in the basement while being blasted with ice-cold air from giant fans.
They were made to do calisthenics while standing on one foot atop a bench, prosecutors said. Denied the opportunity to use the bathroom, they had to request permission to wet themselves.
Through it all, prosecutors said, fraternity members forced Carrington and his friend to drink gallon after gallon of water until Carrington collapsed as hypothermia set in and his brain stem swelled from the water intoxication that killed him.
On Thursday, police arrested five Chi Tau fraternity members who prosecutors said were involved in the sadistic ritual. They were released after posting bail. Three other fraternity members are being sought in the crime, which has so horrified this town that the president of California State University Chico said he may abolish the Greek system altogether.
"There won't be another time," President Paul Zingg said Thursday. "This is the last straw."
Of the eight suspects, four face charges of involuntary manslaughter, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison. The others face misdemeanor charges of hazing, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Just four of the fraternity members charged in the case are students at Cal State Chico. The remainder attend a local community college or aren't college students at all, just hangers-on who never left Chi Tau.
Carrington's death was the latest, and most severe, case of outrageous behavior at the Chi Tau house, authorities and students said. The fraternity has long had a tainted reputation and has in the past faced accusations of sexual assault and violence. Fed up, university officials expelled the fraternity from campus in 2002 after members served alcohol to minors.
In a news conference Thursday, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey reconstructed Carrington's final days, painting a picture of a torture-filled "Hell Week" concocted by a 25-year-old named Jerry Ming Lim. Carrington would have never been allowed to join Chi Tau had he tried to walk away from the abuse he endured simply because his friend, Mike Quintana, did not want to rush the fraternity alone.
"This incident has obviously outraged the community, a community that is tired of 'Animal House' behavior," Ramsey said, flanked by giant photos of the Chi Tau house and its cavernous basement, parts of which were covered with spray-painted graffiti.
Investigators said Lim masterminded the ritual. They do not know if he is a college student, but said he served as the "pledge general" by mapping out the ritual. Lim, who is charged with hazing and involuntary manslaughter, turned himself in Thursday.
Of five pledges who had hoped to join the fraternity, only Carrington and Quintana made it through "Hell Week" and into the basement.
At the beginning of the week -- Jan. 30 -- pledges were told they would spend their nights sleeping in concrete bunkerlike holes, where the windows have no glass, it was so cold they could see their breath and graffiti on the walls told them they were less than men if they quit, Ramsey said.
Each night's hazing had a theme. Jan. 30 was "active night," where Carrington and Quintana were considered the property of the fraternity's newest members and had to perform exercises at their whim, Ramsey said. The pipes in the house backed up that night, sending between 2 and 3 inches of raw sewage onto the basement's concrete floor. Carrington and Quintana were made to exercise in it.
The next night was "pledge Olympics" and brought strenuous exercise that lasted until 6 a.m. It was so cold in the basement that fraternity members "actually felt sorry" for the pledges, Ramsey said, and invited the pair to sleep upstairs in the house.
Carrington's last night alive -- into the wee hours of Feb. 2 -- was "movie night," when fraternity members watched the baseball comedy "Mr. 3000" and played cards while Carrington and Quintana stood atop a bench and consumed gallons of water.
The two young men passed a 5-gallon jug back and forth, drinking and performing push-ups each time they incorrectly answered trivia questions posed by Chi Tau members.
Over and over the fraternity members told them "to take one for the homies," Ramsey said, saying it was their cue to pour the jug of water over their already dripping wet bodies.
The jug was filled five times that night, Ramsey said.
Carrington's mother wept as the district attorney described her son's final hours. His father said he is eager to see those accused of killing his son go to jail.
"I believe when my son went downstairs in that basement with those people," Michael Carrington said, "he knew that it would be rough, but it would be OK because they would not take it too far."
Though the stunt was supposed to conclude at the end of the movie, three fraternity members returned home from a bar drunk; they included Gabriel John Maestretti, 22, who allegedly insisted that the pledges keep going for at least another hour, Ramsey said.
Carrington was in the middle of a push-up when he collapsed around 4 a.m. He died about two hours later at Enloe Medical Center. Quintana -- who attempted to resuscitate Carrington -- survived, and was seen removing possessions from the fraternity house Thursday. He did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Authorities charged Maestretti, who is not a college student, with involuntary manslaughter and hazing. Also facing those charges are Carlos James Devilla Abrille, 22, who also is not a college student, and John Paul Fickes, 19, a Chico State student. The three turned themselves in to authorities Thursday.
Stella Maestretti, the aunt of Maestretti's father, said Thursday, "I never thought he would do anything like that. He just doesn't seem to be that type of a kid."
Chico attorney Kevin Sears waited in the Police Department lobby for his client, Fickes, to be released and said, "The only thing I know so far is he feels awful about Matthew's death."
The remaining defendants and their attorneys either did not wish to comment or could not be reached.
The four charged with misdemeanor hazing are Richard Joseph Hirth, 22; Michael Fernandez, 19; Rex Edward Garnett, 20; and Trent Stiefvater, 20. Chi Tau members seen moving mattresses and other furniture out of the fraternity house on Thursday refused to comment. Garnett turned himself in Thursday and Hirth, Fernandez and Stiefvater were being sought by police.
Chico State officials are looking into expelling the four students who attend the university and were involved in the alleged crime. Zingg said he will decide this spring whether fraternities and sororities at the school, known for its wild parties, will be allowed to remain -- something some fraternity and sorority members resent.
Heidi Hedberg, a sophomore who lives in a sorority house across the street from Chi Tau, said the fraternity "screwed up the entire Chico State Greek system for the rest of us."
It's clearly the evil governemnt going after blacks... it's racism! ;^)
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The family of a young woman who died in an alleged hazing incident filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit against the nation's oldest African-American sorority Monday.
Kristin High, 22, and Kenitha Saafir, 24, drowned September 9 at Dockweiler State Beach near Playa del Rey. The women were both students at California State University, Los Angeles, and were pledging the Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority. High was the mother of a 2-year-old and was engaged to be married.
Several members of the sorority were with them that night, along with two other pledges, according to the lawsuit by the High family.
A preliminary investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department determined the two deaths "appear(ed) to be accidental" and unrelated to the young women's efforts to join the sorority. Police are still investigating.
High's family says a private investigation tells a different story.
Saafir and High were "blindfolded and tied by their hands and their bodies and led into the rip tide conditions of the ocean," the family's lawsuit says. "That night, the waves were cresting at 6 to 8 feet and creating a strong under-current resulting from rip-tide."
The lawsuit claims the two women were forced to do this after days of losing sleep as they did difficult and embarrassing chores for sorority members.
And before they entered the water on the last night of their lives, "they were told to engage in a tiring set of rigorous calisthenics on the sucking sand of the beach," the lawsuit says.
The two women were wearing jogging clothes and tennis shoes when they went into the water, which would have made it more difficult for them to get out.
The lawsuit, which calls AKA's policy against hazing "a sham," names the Alpha Kappa Alpha corporation, the regional chapter, and the individuals from the sorority who were present that night.
CNN was not immediately able to get a response from the sorority.
At a news conference Monday, attorneys for High's family accused the local chapter of AKA of engaging in "a coverup."
"Black fraternities are notorious -- interesting bit of data."
Are there white fraternities?
Is there any doubt that our government wants to make us all criminals?
Because the article does not describe the injuries therefore the government is out to get us?
No, because this matter could have been handled with a generic 'Assault & Battery' charge. What purpose does it serve to make another 'special' crime, and a felony at that?
My remark was meant to highlight how crimes that were misdemeanors and handled by the states a few years ago, are now the Fed's turf, and said crimes are now classified as felonies.