RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Eleven former members of the Delta Chi fraternity’s VCU chapter appeared in court on charges relating to the alleged hazing death of freshman Adam Oakes. Ten defendants, who face charges in Richmond, were released on bond Monday. The remaining defendant is facing a judge in Prince William County and was released on bond as well.
On Friday, 8News reported that eight of the 11 charged had been taken into custody by VCU Police and Virginia State Police. The three remaining students – Andrew White, Alexander Bradley and Robert Fritz – since turned themselves in.
One defendant, Alexander Bradley, turned himself in in court on Monday. While that’s not the normal process, his attorney told a Richmond judge that when he heard the arraignments were taking place this morning, he brought his client to the courthouse.
All ten defendants in Richmond were granted bond, with bail ranging from $500 to $5,000. The difference in bond was not due to differences in charges against the defendants, but rather a result of the discretion granted to the different judges who handled each arraignment.
Mandatory drug and alcohol testing was also made a condition of their release. Many of them were ordered to live with their parents or remain in Virginia for the time being. Andrew White, who prosecutors describe as a key player in what happened, since moved to South Carolina and was told he must move in with his parents who live in Virginia.
In court, both the prosecution and defense said the students had been suspended from VCU on Friday. A spokesperson from VCU said that due to policies protecting students’ privacy, they could not release information regarding disciplinary actions.
New Details Revealed in Court
In court, prosecutors also began building their version of the events that took place that night in February. Defense attorneys for the suspects have not presented their cases just yet. The hearings on Monday primarily served to determine whether the suspects should be released on bond.
As 8News has previously reported, the medical examiner found the cause of Oakes’ death to be alcohol poisoning, and prosecutors said Monday his Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was at least .40 at the time of his death. That’s five times the legal limit to drive.
On a late February 2021 evening, there was first an “official pledge ceremony”, where an adult above 40 years old was present. Oakes and the other unofficial pledges were not there. After that, Oakes and the other pledges were driven to the fraternity-affiliated house on West Clay street “with heads down,” according to prosecutors. Oakes was taken downstairs to meet his fraternity big brother, Andrew White. That’s when prosecutors say he was given a red solo cup full of “almost all alcohol” and told to “chug it.” After that, he was ordered to drink and finish an entire large bottle of whiskey with White.
White then said the unofficial pledges were expected to “get f*cked up,” according to prosecutors. They added that Oakes was seen enjoying the party by some, but there are conflicting reports of how drunk he was. Prosecutors said there’s evidence that the 19-year-old both threw up and passed out at the party but was not moved to a couch because of his size.
“Why? Why didn’t anybody get him help?” said Oakes’ cousin Courtney White in an interview with 8News Monday. “My son wasn’t a huge drinker like that and he was coerced to do it,” said his father, Eric Oakes.
The family was visibly emotional Monday after sitting inside each of the hearings. “Reliving that whole evening again has just been hard for all of us,” E. Oakes said.
Witnesses saw Oakes’ “big brother,” Andrew White, who is one of the former fraternity members charged, mix an “unusually strong” drink for him, according to prosecutors. Oakes was then forced to chug the drink – along with a “full handle” of alcohol – alongside the defendant, they said.
The prosecutors went on to describe how Chapter President Jason Mulgrew instructed the “underground” or “unofficial” pledges, among them Adam Oakes, not to watch university-mandated anti-hazing material. Mulgrew has also been charged in the case.
Oakes was found the next morning around 9 a.m. White said he was “watching over” Oakes during a Facetime call around 3 a.m. and said he heard Oakes snoring, according to prosecutors in court. Another witness said they saw Oakes laying on his stomach with his head on a pillow and a blanket over him around 6 a.m. It’s not clear exactly what time Oakes tragically died.
On Monday, many of the suspects’ families were present in court as well. In addition to paying bond, judges ordered the suspects be tested to make sure they don’t drink or do drugs as court proceedings continue. Prosecutors also asked for a couple of the suspects to receive ankle monitors, but judges declined those requests.
The cases will be heard next on October 4.