RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Nearly one year since VCU freshman Adam Oakes died with a blood alcohol level over five times the legal limit, two young men out of 11 accused in the alleged hazing incident appeared in court.
Since the 19-year-old’s death at an off-campus fraternity party in February, the young men charged in connection to it face hazing accusations.
“Christmas is really hitting us hard because you know, there’s an empty seat at our table,” Oakes’ cousin, Courtney White, told 8News Monday night.
At least one defendant will appear in the Richmond Circuit Court on Tuesday. A fraternity member central in the probe will be given a chance to respond to the evidence from the prosecution.
While Benjamin Corado is slated to appear for a status hearing, Andrew White will show up to court for a plea hearing.
In September, prosecutors said White, a former Delta Chi fraternity member, said unofficial pledges were expected to get “f****d up” the night Oakes was seeking membership in the now-expelled fraternity chapter.
8News Legal Analyst Russ Stone described what could come of the misdemeanor hazing charge.
“A judge has to decide whether or not the facts of a particular case involve recklessly or intentionally endangering somebody’s health or safety,” Stone said.
While the men allegedly involved do not face murder charges, Courtney White believes defendants knew pledges would be drinking heavily.
“It was premeditated that that evening, everybody that came to that party was going to walk away wasted. Maybe they didn’t intend on killing someone,” she said.
Several defendants are also charged with giving alcohol to a minor. It’s unclear if there will be a unanimous outcome, as the 11 cases remain open.
“Judges do often, if somebody enters a plea of guilty, they will be gentler on the sentence. Because, the person accepts responsibility for what they did. The flip-side of that is that if you are willing to take that risk to be able to turn it in your favor, and you might be completely acquitted,” Stone said.
Of the men charged in this case, six cases have been continued to February and three trials have been scheduled in the new year.
Editor’s note 12/21/21: We clarified a statement to reflect that the reporting took place in September 2021.