On Monday, four men who were initially charged with murder pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter for the 2013 hazing death of would-be fraternity brother, Chun Hsien Deng. The 18-year-old student died at a weekend retreat for potential Baruch College members of the Pi Delta Psi, an Asian-American fraternity.
In December 2013, Deng traveled to a rental house in the Poconos for a hazing ritual that – according to a statement by Baruch College – would never have been allowed on campus. In the early morning hours, Deng was forced to strap a heavily-weighted backpack to his back, put on a blindfold, and follow other pledges through the so-called “glass ceiling,” a symbol of the Asian-American plight. According to a grand jury report, Deng became defiant, speaking out of turn and kicking one of the fraternity members. In response, the fraternity members became physically aggressive with their pledge, knocking him to the ground and, eventually, rendering him unconscious.
When the fraternity members realized Deng had lost consciousness, they carried him inside, laid him in front of a fireplace, and attempted to revive him. When his breathing became labored, instead of calling for medical help, they started googling phrases such as “concussion can’t wake up,” and even called a national fraternity official, who advised them to hide anything bearing the fraternity’s symbol.
Finally, after an hour had passed, three of the men drove Deng to the hospital. Unfortunately, it was too late; he had suffered severe head trauma. Deng died the next day. For their role in the fatal hazing, 32 people were charged with crimes from assault to hindering apprehension. Five were charged with third-degree murder. A MA wrongful death attorney can help you determine how to proceed if another’s negligent, reckless or criminal actions resulted in the death of a loved one.
Murder Charges Reduced to Voluntary Manslaughter
After reaching an agreement with the prosecution, four of the men who were facing murder charges appeared in court and pleaded guilty to reduced charges of hindering apprehension and voluntary manslaughter, on Monday. The fifth man originally charged with murder also faces reduced charges, but his case has not been resolved. Neither have the cases of the other 32 men charged in Deng’s death.
The Deng case is far from the only one of its kind. In fact, 18 Penn State University students were recently charged in the February death of 19-year-old fraternity pledge, Timothy Piazza. Prosecutors nationwide have been taking a harder stance on criminal punishments for individuals involved in hazing deaths. Although hazing deaths are rarely intentional, this type of reckless and negligent behavior should be punished. These men put their own interests before the safety of their friend, and they should be held accountable for their actions. A Boston wrongful death lawyer can help you determine if you have a wrongful death lawsuit following the death of a loved one.
Deng’s family recently issued the following statement:
“Michael was a devoted, bright and loving son, and nothing can undo or lessen the crushing heartbreak of losing our only child to fraternity hazing. Michael’s death was absolutely preventable, and our family will, now and forever, do everything in our power to hold these men and their fraternity responsible.”
Altman & Altman, LLP – Wrongful Death Attorneys Serving Boston and the Surrounding Areas
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent, reckless, or criminal act of another, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. In the case above, the charges of voluntary manslaughter are filed by the state on behalf of the victim. A wrongful death lawsuit, however, is brought by the family of the deceased, to compensate for economic losses, which may include pain and suffering. Compensation cannot bring back a loved one, but it may provide the time and space you need to heal. If you have lost a loved one due to another’s actions, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.