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Oklahoma Alpha Phi Alpha criminal update: no contest pleas

Four Fraternity Members Plead on Hazing Charges
Tulsa Pledge Beaten


KUSH Radio Correspondent
04/11/2008

STILLWATER — Four of the six Oklahoma State University fraternity members who were accused of beating a 20-year-old pledge last year pleaded no contest Thursday to the misdemeanor charge of hazing.

OSU banned the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity after the six members were charged in Payne County District Court in March 2007, with hazing a Tulsa pledge between Jan. 23 and Feb. 11 of last year.

They allegedly beat him repeatedly with paddles and forced him to do such activities as calisthenics. The student subsequently withdrew from the university.

All four defendants who pleaded no contest Thursday were ordered to write a 1,250-word paper on hazing. They also were made jointly liable for the total restitution of $3,755, in accordance with their plea bargains recommended by prosecutor Tyson Branyan.

Jason Donel Taylor, 23, from Tulsa, who graduated in May, and Joshua David Goree, 24, a senior from Bartlesville, also must each perform 50 hours of community service, pay a $200 fine and contribute $100 to the victims\’ compensation fund, as part of their one-year deferred sentences.

Mitchel Anthony McCowan, 22, a senior from Stillwater, who previously had asked for a jury trial, must perform 100 hours of community service, pay a $250 fine and contribute $100 to the victims\’ compensation fund, as part of his one-year deferred sentence. McCowan has already completed 85 hours of community service and written his paper on hazing, defense attorney Cheryl Ramsey said in court.

Michael Dexter Combs, 21, a junior from Edmond, must perform 50 hours of community service, which he has already completed, pay a $200 fine and contribute $100 to the victims\’ compensation fund, as part of his one-year deferred sentence for hazing.

Combs also pleaded no contest Thursday to an unrelated two-count misdemeanor charge of obstructing a Stillwater police officer and being underage in a package liquor store, both on Dec. 2, 2006, when he was 20. For those offenses, he must perform 40 more hours of community service, pay a $100 fine, have a drug and alcohol evaluation and follow any recommendations, and take a life skills course, as part of two one-year deferred sentences.

All four defendants must have their hazing papers and community service completed by Oct. 10, Special District Judge Michael Stano ordered. Because they were given deferred sentences, they will not have criminal records if they complete the conditions of their probation.

Another defendant, Lyall Cobb Storandt, now 23, a senior from Oklahoma City, pleaded no contest last November, when he was ordered to write a five-page paper on hazing, perform 50 hours of community service and pay $625 in restitution, in accordance with a plea bargain. He was also fined $200 and ordered to pay $100 to the victims\’ compensation fund as part of a six-month deferred sentence.

The sixth defendant, Corrion \”Cory\” Quentrelle Cox, 23, who was a senior from Oklahoma City, but is no longer enrolled at OSU, did not enter a plea Thursday due to an issue with the restitution, defense attorney Ronald \”Skip\” Kelly of Oklahoma City said in court. The judge scheduled Cox for a jury trial on June 19 and 20.

The hazing charge carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $500 fine, on conviction.

After the filing of the hazing charges, OSU initially said that the fraternity was banned for at least 15 years. But that suspension was modified in March 2007 to \”at least five years,\” university spokesman Gary Shutt said.

\”The suspension may be extended beyond the five-year period if any of the fraternity members involved in the hazing incident is still enrolled at OSU,\” Shutt said.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of 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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