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Hazing charges dropped against 5 former Delta Chi members in death of Adam Oakes

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Adam Oakes Vigil

People remembered VCU student Adam Oakes at a March 2021 vigil in Monroe Park. 

Authorities have dropped hazing charges against five former members of the Delta Chi fraternity at Virginia Commonwealth University in connection with the death of Adam Oakes.

The concession, made last week, comes after six other defendants accepted responsibility for their roles.

Prosecutors dropped charges against Riley McDaniel, Robert Fritz, Alexander Bradley, Alessandro Medina-Villanueva and Quinn Kuby. All five had been charged with misdemeanor hazing. Fritz, Bradley and Kuby also were charged with misdemeanor serving alcohol to a minor.

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A deputy commonwealth's attorney declined to say why the charges were dropped. Oakes was a 19-year-old freshman at VCU when he died of alcohol intoxication following a Delta Chi “big-little” party in February 2021.

In September, authorities charged 11 former members of the fraternity with hazing and seven of them with serving alcohol to a minor. VCU suspended the students, a defense attorney said last year, and the university permanently removed the fraternity from campus.

Six of the defendants pleaded guilty or no contest. Three were found guilty — Andrew White, Christian Rohrbach and Jason Mulgrew. The other three — Colin Tran, Enayat Sheikhzad and Benjamin Corado — are eligible to have their charges dismissed if they meet the terms of their plea agreements.

All six agreed to participate in anti-hazing seminars with the Oakes family’s foundation, Love Like Adam, and complete community service. The plea agreements required three of the defendants to have conversations with the Oakes family about Adam’s death, a process known as restorative justice.

None of the six received jail time. Hazing and serving alcohol to a minor are Class 1 misdemeanors, carrying no more than a year in jail and a fine of $2,500.

“Just because their charges are dropped doesn’t mean they’re innocent,” said Courtney White, a cousin of Adam Oakes. The Delta Chi students could have saved Oakes’ life by calling 911, she added. White invited the defendants to participate in the foundation and work to end hazing. 

Mike Hollomon, a deputy commonwealth’s attorney, declined to say why the charges were dropped against five defendants, citing the open status of three defendants' cases. 

Peter Baruch, a lawyer for McDaniel, said there was different evidence for each defendant.

“Not every defendant was situated the same,” he added.

Asked if McDaniel provided evidence against the other defendants, Baruch said his client was cooperative with the investigation and looks forward to moving ahead with his life.

Asked how McDaniel would have pleaded had the charges not been dropped, Baruch declined to say.

“It ended the way it should have,” Baruch said. “Every member of the Delta Chi community was truly devastated by Adam’s death.”

Fritz had no interaction with Oakes that night, said Fritz’s lawyer, Ali Amirshahi. It’s unclear if Fritz can return to VCU or if he’ll finish his academic career elsewhere.

“He is absolutely devastated with what happened to a fraternity brother of his, and he is just trying to move forward with his life,” Amirshahi said.

Bill Dinkin, a lawyer for Bradley, said his client is “very sorry for the Oakes family’s loss and wishes them the best.” Bradley declined to comment further.

Attorneys for Medina-Villanueva and Kuby did not respond to requests for comment.

ekolenich@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6109

Twitter: @EricKolenich

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Adam Oakes, a VCU student who died Feb. 27, was remembered during a vigil in Monroe Park in Richmond on March 3, 2021. Video by Alexa Welch Ed…

People remember Adam Oakes, a VCU student who died last weekend, during a vigil in Monroe Park on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. 

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