4 plead not guilty in suspected hazing death of LSU freshman from Roswell

Four men pleaded not guilty Friday to charges following the drinking death of a Louisiana State University freshman from Roswell. 

Maxwell Gruver, 18, died in September following a suspected hazing incident at LSU’s Phi Delta Theta fraternity. At the time of his death, Gruver had an alcohol level of .495 percent — more than six times the legal limit for drivers.

In October, 10 people were charged in Gruver’s death, and last month, four of those were indicted by a grand jury. All four entered not guilty pleas Friday, according to the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s Office. 

Matthew Alexander Naquin, 20, of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, was arraigned on a negligent homicide charge. The felony charge is punishable by up to five years in prison. 

Three others pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor hazing charges: Sean-Paul Gott, 21, of Lafayette, Louisiana; Ryan Isto, 19, of the Canadian town of Oakville, Ontario; and Patrick Forde, 21, of Westwood, Massachusetts. They face a maximum of 30 days in jail and a $100 fine if convicted. 

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None of the four are current LSU students. Their next court appearances are scheduled for Sept. 6, the DA’s office said. 

Gruver’s mother has started the Max Gruver Foundation to raise awareness about the dangers of hazing. 

“Hazing needs to change,” Rae Ann Gruver told Channel 2 Action News. “It’s so pointless and so senseless. It is not what makes you a brother to somebody.”

Max Gruver graduated from Blessed Trinity High School and planned to study journalism at LSU. 

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