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Archive for Sunday, October 30, 2005

Fraternity members plead guilty in death

October 30, 2005

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— Four fraternity members pleaded guilty in the death of a college student who was forced to drink large amounts of water during an initiation rite.

Under the plea deals reached Friday, all four men will serve time.

Prosecutors said Matthew Carrington, 21, died of heart failure caused by water intoxication after he and another pledge were ordered to drink water from five-gallon jugs and douse themselves as fans blasted them with cold air in the basement of the now-defunct Chi Tau fraternity.

Gabriel Maestretti, 22, pleaded guilty to the most serious charges - involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor hazing. He received a one-year sentence, the Butte County District Attorney said.

John Paul Fickes, 20, and Jerry Lim, 25, each pleaded guilty to being an accessory to manslaughter and to misdemeanor hazing and will serve six months. Carlos Devilla Abrille, 22, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor hazing and was sentenced to 90 days. Maestretti, Fickes and Lim were also sentenced to five years probation and Abrille to three years probation.

Butte County Superior Court Judge Robert Glusman had considered a torture charge, which carries a potential life sentence.

Earlier this month, another man involved in the case, Michael Fernandez, 19, pleaded no contest to hazing and was sentenced to 30 days in jail. Two other fraternity members - Richard Hirth, 22, and Trent Stiefvater, 20 - still face misdemeanor hazing charges and are scheduled to appear in court Nov. 23.

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