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Fresno State students to face charges in hazing death

March 12, 2013 | 12:15 pm

Charges filed in Fresno State hazing death

Three Fresno State students could face up to a year in jail if they are convicted in connection with a fraternity hazing that caused the death of an 18-year-old freshman, according to authorities.

Philip Dhanens died of alcohol poisoning the night of Aug. 31 after he and 14 other fraternity pledges were locked in a room and told they could not leave until they had consumed bottles of tequila, rum and vodka, Fresno police said.

During the investigation, Theta Chi fraternity members evaded detectives' questions. Police said they feared the fraternity might hide or destroy evidence, and searched the house.

On Tuesday, the Fresno County district attorney said at a news conference that Aaron Joseph Raymond, 24, Leonard Louis Serrato, 28, and Daniel Woodard Baker, 22, will each face hazing charges and also misdemeanor charges for providing alcohol to minors.
On the night he died, Dhanens, a football player and band member in high school, drank heavily and became agitated before passing out. Fraternity members then carried him to a designated "Drunk Room" for observation by the "Sober Brothers." About three hours later, he stopped breathing.

An autopsy found that alcohol consumption caused Dhanens' brain to swell. His blood-alcohol level was 0.36.

The death was the second alcohol-related fatality at a Fresno State fraternity party in six years. In 2006, a 19-year-old died of alcohol poisoning at a Phi Gamma Delta fraternity party. The university suspended that fraternity for five years.


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-– Diana Marcum in Fresno

Photo: Philip Dhanens' parents, Paul and Diane Dhanens, left, listen as Fresno County Dist. Atty. Elizabeth Egan and Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer announce charges filed against three Fresno State students. Credit: Eric Paul Zamora / Fresno Bee