A jury found former LSU student Matthew Naquin guilty of negligent homicide Wednesday afternoon for the hazing death of fraternity pledge Maxwell Gruver.
Gruver’s parents were in tears as the verdict was read. They voiced relief and hope that what happened to their son never happens to anyone else.
“We want this to send a message to the country that hazing should not exist,” said Stephen Gruver, Maxwell’s father.
The six-person jury took less than hour to announce their verdict. The former LSU student faces up to five years in prison.
“I’m so glad the verdict came out the way that it did,” East Baton Rouge Parish District Atorney Hillar Moore said. “No verdict could ever bring back Max.”
Moore said this is a case that he would never want to be a juror on, and no family should have to go through what the Gruvers faced.
The Gruvers said they are thankful the trial is over.
“It’s not something that we’re ever going to be happy about but at the same time its justice for our son and for the man that caused his death,” said Rae Ann Gruver, Maxwell’s mother. “It’s grueling to just have to keep reliving it over and over again and you can just picture Max throughout that night and in the morning and its visuals you don’t want to have.”
In her closing argument, prosecutor Morgan Johnson told jurors she hopes her son never meets someone like Naquin.
“Max is a victim and it could happen to any of our children and this was no fault of his,” Johnson said.
Naquin’s lead defense attorney, John McLindon, argued the jury made a mistake.
“I’m crushed, I’m devastated,” he told BRProud.com in an interview following the verdict’s announcement. “I never thought the jury would come back guilty. I believed from day one that Matthew was not guilty and I’m literally in a state of shock.”
McLindon said he may quit his job, due to his loss in court.
“I’m actually considering quitting the practice of law,” he said. “This is so bad. This is so unfair. If I can’t win this case, I’m sick to my stomach.”
Now that the trial is over, the Gruver’s say their goal is to change people’s minds about hazing so no more families will meet similar tragedies.
Naquin was released on a $10,000 bond. He will be sentenced Oct. 16th. His attorney plans to appeal the verdict.