Plea Deal in Suspected Radford Hazing Death

Five Radford students avoid jail time in exchange for plea deal.

Saturday, Dec 17, 2011  |  Updated 10:16 AM EDT
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Plea Deal in Suspected Radford Hazing Death

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Five fraternity members at Radford University have pleaded guilty to hazing a student from Chesterfield County who later died.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that the five entered their pleas Friday in Radford Circuit Court to charges of purchasing alcohol for a minor and for hazing.

The charges stem from the October 2010 death of 20-year-old Samuel Harris Mason. The Radford student was pledging Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity when he was given a "ritual" bottle of liquor and drank it in an hour, according to Radford Commonwealth's Attorney Chris Rehak. In a statement, Rehak condemned the Radford chapter of TKE for a "code of silence, which hindered the investigation" and forced the summoning of a special grand jury.

Mason was found dead at his Fairfax Street home. An autopsy put his blood-alcohol content at .48, six times the legal limit for driving.

A sixth defendant did not enter a plea Friday and his case was continued for 12 months. Rehak described that defendant, 22-year-old Ryan Lawson, as "the most truthful TKE witness we had testify under oath."

Last week, a seventh man charged in connection with Mason's death pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors. He was sentenced to a two-month jail sentence and $1,000 in fines.

The Radford chapter of TKE has been suspended by the fraternity's international organization during the investigation. Its current status is unclear.
 

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