Hazing News

First Two SAE Members Enter Not Gulty Plea in Carson Starkey Death: San Luis Obispo Tribune

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Posted on Thu, Jun. 04, 2009
Cal Poly students accused in hazing death plead not guilty
Two Cal Poly students accused of felony charges in the alleged hazing death of freshman Carson Starkey pleaded not guilty this morning.

Haithem Ibrahim and Zacary Ellis – of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity – entered their pleas in Judge Kenneth Andreen’s courtroom to charges of felony hazing causing death or great bodily injury and misdemeanor furnishing alcohol to a minor causing death or great bodily injury.

Both men are out of custody after posting bail.

Ibrahim’s lawyer Thomas McCormick requested that his client’s bail be reduced, saying Ibrahim doesn’t have a criminal history and has never been arrested. McCormick said that he posted a $50,000 cash bond for Ibrahim; Andreen lowered the bail amount to $25,000.

Ellis’ attorney, Richard Conway of Hanford, said that Ellis used a bail bondsman and didn’t seek to lower his bail amount.

Their next court appearances are in July. Two others accused of misdemeanor crimes – Russell Taylor and Adam Marszal – are scheduled to appear in court later this month.

Starkey, an 18-year-old from Austin, Texas, was pledging to the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon when he attended the gathering Dec. 1 at 551 Highland Drive in San Luis Obispo.

The alleged hazing incident involved having pledges drink large amounts of alcohol chosen for them by a big brother. Police said Starkey was initially taken to the hospital after becoming unresponsive after drinking, but fraternity brothers turned the car back and Starkey spent the night at the home. He was pronounced dead the next morning.

Police tests showed his blood alcohol content from 0.39 to 0.45 percent. That’s about five times the legal limit for driving, which is 0.08 percent.

Police said Ibrahim was Starkey’s big brother who chose the alcohol for him and Ellis was the pledge educator for the fraternity.

–Nick Wilson

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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