Frat members charged in pledge’s death

Charges have been filed against eight members of the Chi Tau fraternity for their participation in the hazing death of 21-year-old Matthew Carrington last month.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said four members are being charged with involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor hazing for their “more active participation.” He said an additional four members are being charged with hazing, which violates California’s hazing law under the Education Code. The names of the individuals being charged were scheduled for release Thursday afternoon, after CN&R press time.

The four men charged with involuntary manslaughter could face up to four years in prison if convicted. Violation of the state’s hazing law is punishable by a maximum $5,000 fine and one year in county jail. Ramsey said some members of the fraternity have already contacted lawyers and plan on turning themselves in.

Matthew Carrington died on Feb. 2 after participating in a fraternity hazing ritual involving the consumption of large quantities of water while exercising in the cold basement of the Chi Tau fraternity house. Specifically, he died from cardiac dysrhythmia due to water intoxication. Hypothermia was also a contributing factor in the pledge’s death.

Ramsey said the initiation was part of “movie night,” which was set up by the pledge general. Carrington and his pledge brother, Mike Quintana, were asked questions about the fraternity’s history that were nearly impossible to answer. If they answered incorrectly, the pledges were told either to do push-ups or drink large amounts of water from a five-gallon bottle while being blasted by fans.

The initiation rite was to end when the movie ended, which, Ramsey said, was at approximately 2:30 a.m. However, he said three members initiated the hazing process again after returning home from the bars early that morning.

Ramsey said a witness told police that the pledges looked to be in “bad shape” after the first round of hazing. The witness asked the members to stop but was ignored.

Carrington collapsed at approximately 3:40 a.m. after suffering a seizure that lasted 30 seconds to one minute. Members were allegedly going to call 9-1-1 but decided not to after hearing what they perceived as snoring. Quintana noticed that Carrington had stopped breathing around 5 a.m. and performed CPR. Fraternity members called paramedics, who rushed Carrington to Enloe Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead soon after arrival.

Ramsey was to hold a press conference today (Thursday, March 3) at the Chico Police Department headquarters to announce the names of those being charged. He said the individuals would be arraigned today or Friday.

Matthew’s father, Michael Carrington, talked with Ramsey and believes the case was handled right.

"I’m ecstatic that charges are being brought against these individuals," Carrington said. "But it’s bittersweet because my son is still dead."