15 from Washington State fraternity charged after teen’s death
PULLMAN, Wash. — Fifteen current or former members of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at Washington State University face criminal charges in the death of a student from alcohol poisoning.
The charges filed Wednesday by the Whitman County prosecutor are related to the death on Nov. 12, 2019, of 19-year-old freshman Samuel Martinez of Bellevue, Washington.
The men are charged with supplying liquor to one or more underage pledges at a fraternity event that was part of an initiation process, Prosecuting Attorney Denis P. Tracy said.
Martinez died of acute alcohol intoxication after attending an event of the fraternity, which he intended to join.
Fraternity members called police around 8:30 a.m. on a Tuesday morning after finding Martinez unconscious and not breathing at the fraternity house near the Pullman campus. The coroner determined he had died about four hours before the call.
The lawyers representing his family say Martinez drank most of a half-gallon of rum at the event.
Furnishing liquor to minors is a gross misdemeanor in Washington state punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Pullman police had also recommended hazing charges against two men, but there is a one-year statute of limitations for that crime.
WSU and Alpha Tau Omega agreed to a six-year suspension of the fraternity’s recognition.
In 2020, Martinez’s parents filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the university and the fraternity.