Three plead guilty in hazing at Eastern KY U
By Ashlee Clark
RICHMOND - The three men charged with the beating of an Eastern Kentucky University student as part of a fraternity hazing ritual will each serve at least 30 days of home incarceration for the assault and could potentially have their records expunged by the end of the year.
Thomas Barnes, Alonzo C. McGill and Gabriel M. McLaren pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault charges Monday morning in Madison District Court. They beat Brent White side last year while he was a candidate for admission into the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity chapter at EKU. Whiteside was later hospitalized with kidney failure.
The cases were set to go before a district court jury Monday morning for a two-day trial, but the plea agreement was reached before Madison District Judge Earl-Ray Neal seated the jury.
The lengths of the men's home incarceration sentences vary according to their involvement in the hazing and cooperation with police. McLaren, who was in charge of the pledge process within the fraternity, will serve 100 days. McGill, an alumnus of the chapter who lives in New York, will serve 70 days. Barnes was the first defendant to talk to police and will serve 30 days.
Barnes and McLaren were undergraduates at EKU at the time of the assaults. McLaren has since graduated.
Barnes, McGill and McLaren could have their charges dropped and their records expunged if they complete their sentences and follow the stipulations of the agreement, which include not using drugs or alcohol and maintaining employment. Neal will address the issue at a formal sentencing Oct. 19.
The chance for the charges to be dismissed was a key element in the decision to take the plea agreement, attorneys for McGill and McLaren said.
"The goal here is to move on," said Michael Eubanks, the attorney who represented McGill.
Eubanks and Jim Baechtold, the attorney for McLaren, denied that their clients meant to harm Whiteside during the pledge process, though they pleaded guilty to the assault charges.
"The intention was not to hurt," Eubanks said. "The intention was to build brotherhood. You don't create brotherhood by hurting people."
Barnes and his attorney, Alex Rowady, declined to comment.
The Lexington Herald-Leader.