Hazing News

Whitney Katherine Miller guilty plea at Utah State: from Deseret News

Moderator: the Utah State case continues. HN

USU student pleads guilty to supplying alcohol to minor, hazing charge dropped
Published: Wednesday, May 6, 2009 11:53 p.m.

LOGAN — Another one of the Utah State University students charged in connection with the alcohol poisoning death of fraternity pledge Michael Starks has reached an agreement with prosecutors.

Whitney Katherine Miller, 19, pled guilty to unlawful supply of alcohol to a minor, a class A misdemeanor, during a change of plea hearing Wednesday, according to court records. During the hearing prosecutors agreed to drop a hazing charge against Miller, court records indicate.

Judge Thomas Willmore set Miller’s sentencing for June 15.

Starks, 18, died after participating in an initiation ceremony for the then-USU chapter of Sigma Nu. The initiation involved Starks and another pledge being “kidnapped” by the Chi Omega sorority women. An affidavit of probable cause states the pledges were stripped down to their boxers and painted in USU school colors.

Sometime during the activity, they began drinking, prosecutors say. They returned to the fraternity house already heavily intoxicated, and a few hours later, Starks was found unconscious and not breathing.

Starks was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly afterward.

Grant Arthur Barney, 22, pleaded guilty last month to obstructing justice, a class B misdemeanor, and was sentenced Monday to serve eight days in jail and pay a $1,025 fine. Barney will also be on probation for one year and will be required to perform 100 hours of community service.

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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