Hazing News

Utah State cases move toward sentencing: The Herald Journal

Read the full story here at the Herald Journal

Brittany Packham could get six months in jail for supplying alcohol to minor
By Matthew K. Jensen
Tuesday, June 9, 2009 2:37 AM CDT
A defendant in the ongoing Michael Starks hazing case pleaded guilty to supplying alcohol to a minor in 1st District Court on Monday afternoon.

Brittany Packham, 20, is one of five Utah State University students to admit wrongdoing after the Cache County Attorney’s Office brought suit against 12 students and the Sigma Nu and Chi Omega fraternities following the death of Michael Starks.

Starks, an 18-year-old USU student from Salt Lake City, died Nov. 21, 2008, after drinking vodka at an off-campus home. He was taking part in a Sigma Nu fraternity membership initiation, during which he was provided alcohol by members of the Chi Omega Sorority, an official report states.

Prosecutor Barbara Lachmar agreed to reduce the alcohol supplying charge to a class-B misdemeanor and dismissed a hazing charge against Packham.

Judge Thomas Willmore told Packham the maximum penalty for the crime to which she pleaded guilty is six months in jail and a fine of $1,000. He requested a pre-sentence report to be completed before he passes sentence on July 20.

Meanwhile, four of the original 12 cases are ongoing, three have been dismissed and two cases have already been resolved through sentencing.

Former Chi Omega Sorority member Whitney K. Miller was also charged with supplying alcohol to a minor. During her hearing, Miller admitted to supplying vodka to at least one minor.

In court Monday, Packham admitted to holding up an alcoholic drink to the lips of one the participants involved. An officials court document states Starks and another fraternity pledge were “captured” during a mock kidnapping that was executed by members of the Chi Omega Sorority. The document adds that Starks and another pledge were “bound with duct tape” during the ordeal.

Packham declined discussing the case with the media.

Miller will be sentenced next Monday.

Christopher A. Ammon also pleaded no contest to supplying alcohol to a minor. He’s scheduled for sentencing July 6.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

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 current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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