Stone Foltz, BGSU Hazing Trial: Prosecutors Call Final Witnesses

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After a heated morning of discussions and objections related to expert testimony in Wood County Common Pleas Court, the final two prosecution witnesses testified Wednesday in the trial of two Bowling Green State University alumni accused of agreeing to their fraternity brother Stone Foltz to have bullied death.

Prosecutors called nearly two dozen witnesses during the harassment trial, which was originally scheduled to last three weeks. Many of the witnesses were Foltz’s former fraternity brothers, who pleaded guilty to various charges before trial, as well as members of his deposit class, his mother, roommate and girlfriend.

Broken Promise: A podcast series about fraternity hazing

Jacob Krinn, 21, of Delaware, and Troy Henricksen, 24, of Grove City, both face multiple charges related to Foltz’s death, who died of fatal alcohol poisoning in March 2021 after an initiation event called “Big Little Night,” held by their fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha International, better known as PIKE.

Krinn is charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter, third-degree involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, felonious assault, harassment, violating underage liquor laws and obstructing official business.

Henricksen is charged with first-degree manslaughter, tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice, eight counts of harassment and seven counts of violating underage liquor laws.

Audio:Listen to the Broken Pledge podcast

Prosecution, defense by experts

One of the last witnesses for the prosecution — Gregory Parks, associate dean of strategic initiatives and law professor at Wake Forest University who deals primarily with fraternities and harassment — was the subject of objections from the defense teams at Krinn and Henricksen.

Shortly after Wood County District Attorney Paul Dobson began questioning Parks and had him declared an expert on fraternities and harassment, the defense teams asked to approach Judge Joel Kuhlman’s bench. After a five-minute sidebar, the jury was released for nearly 30 minutes while attorneys debated the validity of Park’s expertise.

Krinn’s attorney, San Shamansky, wanted to cross-examine Parks before Dobson finished his directive, which Dobson called “absolutely ridiculous.” Shamansky asked Kuhlman to allow a continuing appeal against “everything” Parks testified about.

“I object to every single word that comes out of his mouth,” Shamansky said.

Defense Attorney Samuel Shamansky delivers his opening statement for his defendant Jacob Krinn May 17 during the BGSU Stone Foltz victimization case at the Wood County Courthouse.

More:First Bowling Green student pleads guilty to bullying in Stone Foltz’s death

Kuhlman eventually recognized Parks as an expert in the psychology of turbidity. However, he limited Parks’ testimony to discussing only the psychological aspects of bullying and cannot provide legal opinion on the case.

Parks testified that local fraternity chapters have considerable power over new members, which can lead to coercive and dangerous bullying practices.

“Members hold the key to membership, or at least the key to acceptance,” Parks said.

A Greek organization, for example, might have a national governing body that sets rules for membership, but even if an individual meets those qualifications, Parks says it’s ultimately up to local chapter members to accept them and meet their expectations.

New members quickly learn that they must engage in certain behaviors, such as cleaning for current members or drinking, in order to be either initiated or accepted by the chapter, Parks said.

Witnesses Describe Pledge Process, Big Little Night

In addition to Parks’ testimony, prosecutors also named Sgt. Scott Frank, a Bowling Green police officer who responded to the scene at Foltz’s home. He also interviewed PIKE members at the off-campus house where Big Little Night took place and at the on-campus fraternity residence.

Former PIKE members testified throughout the process that the March 4, 2021 Big Little Night took place at the residence of several current and former fraternity brothers, which members dubbed the “Bando Mansion”.

Big Little Night is a tradition common in many Greek organizations, where new members are matched with an older member as a mentor. Foltz was paired with Krinn, whom he knew from their hometown.

At the event, PIKE conscripts were blindfolded and led into the basement, where active members yelled and barked at them to confuse them. After their blindfolds were removed, the Pledges’ Big Brothers were unveiled and given a “family bottle,” a bottle of liquor that was the same brand their Bigs drank during their initiation.

More:Three Bowling Green students expelled from school, 18 suspended after Stone Foltz’ tragic death

Defendant Jacob Krinn listens May 17 at the Wood County Courthouse during the BGSU Stone Foltz victimization case.

Krinn presented Foltz with a liter of Evan Williams bourbon, the equivalent of about 18 shots, which he downed in about 15 minutes, former PIKE members previously testified.

Aaron Lehane, a former PIKE member who was living in Bando on the night of the party, testified Monday that it’s “traditional” for promisers to finish their bottles.

The jury viewed body camera footage of Frank interviewing Krinn and two other PIKE members at their on-campus residence after Foltz was hospitalized. In the video, Krinn said he wasn’t at Big Little Night and that active members had no communication about the event.

Wood County Assistant Attorney Pamela Gross then asked Frank to read a series of messages between active PIKE members in a private Facebook group chat called “Kentucky Slumdog Slingers.” A total of 150 messages about Foltz and the party were exchanged in the group chat that night and into the early hours of March 5, 2021.

Krinn and two other men brought Foltz back to his campus apartment after the event. PIKE members previously testified that Big Brothers should bring Littles back home and take care of them after the event.

In exchange, Krinn told PIKE members that Foltz was fine and was already asleep when he dropped him off. Krinn also said he looked for Foltz’s roommates but found none, so they left after about 30 minutes.

“If nobody was there, why didn’t you take him home and take care of him?” a PIKE member wrote Krinn.

Traffic cameras showed the PIKE brothers driving to Foltz’s apartment at 10:05 p.m., and that Wade McKenzie, Foltz’ roommate, arrived at her apartment at 10:35 p.m., according to Snapchat records.

Frank told the jury that it was unlikely Krinn stayed as long as he claimed.

Foltz’s girlfriend, Maddie Borja, called 911 from his home at 11:21 p.m., which jurors listened to earlier this week.

The prosecution also played an 80-minute audio interview between Frank and Henricksen as part of the police investigation.

Henricksen told investigators that his role at PIKE was that of the new pledge coordinator, during which his primary responsibility was to lead the pledge education classes twice a week. He also made pledges to their Bigs and planned Big Little Night, although he did not attend.

Henricksen also said it was the Big Brothers’ responsibility to stay with their little ones after initiation.

“I’m not (expletively) leaving you,” he said. “That doesn’t make any sense to me.”

The closing statements will take place on Thursday morning.

A makeshift memorial to Stone J. Foltz, 20, of Delaware, outside of Pi Kappa Alpha at Bowling Green State University.  Foltz died on March 7, three days after an alleged off-campus harassment incident.

Sheridan Hendrix is ​​a high school reporter with the Columbus Dispatch. You can reach them at [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter at @sheridan120. Sign up for their mobile newsroom newsletter here and their educational newsletter here.

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