Prosecutor files charges in death of WSU fraternity pledge

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — The Whitman County prosecutor has filed criminal charges against 15 current or former members of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at Washington State University following the death of a student from alcohol poisoning.

The charges filed Wednesday are related to the death of 19-year-old WSU freshman Samuel Martinez of Bellevue, Washington.

Martinez died of acute alcohol intoxication on Nov. 12, 2019 after attending a fraternity event. The Whitman County Coroner ruled that the death was accidental.

The men are charged with supplying liquor to one or more pledges at the fraternity event that was part of an initiation process, Prosecuting Attorney Denis P. Tracy said. Furnishing liquor to minors is a gross misdemeanor in Washington state punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

In 2020, Martinez’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university and the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity which he was pledging to join.