Nine Florida State students charged in frat pledge’s death

Florida State suspended its fraternities and sororities with no timetable on when they would be reinstated

Andrew Coffey, Florida State University
Andrew Coffey (Credit: WFLA)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – Nine Florida State University students are wanted in connection with the hazing death of fraternity pledge Andrew Coffey.

Coffey, 20, died November 3 of alcohol poisoning following a booze-fueled fraternity party hosted by Pi Kappa Phi.

The party, called “Big Brother Night,” is when older members get acquainted with pledges. The state medical examiner said Coffey’s blood alcohol level was .447, more than five times the legal limit of .08 to drive, during the autopsy. It is believed it was closer to .558 at the time of his death, the medical examiner said.

According to a report presented to a grand jury investigating Coffey’s death, the pledge consumed an entire bottle of 101 proof bourbon. The report finds that after Coffey passed out, fraternity members moved his body and continued playing pool around him.

Coffey’s “big brother,” charged with watching him, left the house. Coffey was found without a pulse by a fraternity member the next morning, who called and texted five other frat members before calling police.

More than half of the fraternity members refused police interviews following Coffey’s death. At the time, State Attorney Jack Campbell said testimonies before the grand jury seemed insincere and shallow, suggesting they were more concerned with keeping out of trouble than providing useful information to investigators.

FSU President John Thrasher released a statement that said:

These arrest warrants strengthen our resolve to address the issue of responsible student behavior at Florida State University for the benefit, safety and well-being of our students and the community. Florida State does not tolerate hazing, and we are committed to continuing to combat all unsafe and dangerous practices and behaviors on our campus.

The indefinite suspension of Greek Life activities remains in place and we continue to mourn Andrew Coffey’s loss. As we direct our efforts toward fostering a safer, healthier environment for all of our students, we also acknowledge the Coffey family’s terrible loss. We understand and share the concerns the Coffeys expressed to the grand jury in December about student indifference, reckless conduct and irresponsibility.

These arrests are the first step in seeking justice for Andrew and his loved ones, and they will inform us on where we need to place our focus as we proceed. Vice President Amy Hecht continues to work with our student groups in an effort to prevent further tragedy.

The grand juries have been very helpful to our work and we appreciate the State Attorney’s efforts. Clearly, he is taking this matter just as seriously as we are. We hope all members and alumni of our Greek organizations are paying attention.”

The decision to file charges against the fraternity members came after two grand juries left the decision to level charges in the hands of State Attorney Jack Campbell.

According to a statement released Tuesday night by the Tallahassee Police Department, investigators were able to develop probable cause for the following nine subjects connected in the death of Andrew Coffey:

  • Luke E. Kluttz, 22
  • Clayton M. Muehlstein, 22
  • Brett A. Birmingham, 20
  • Conner R. Ravelo
  • Christopher M. Hamlin, 21
  • Anthony Petagine, 20
  • Anthony Oppenheimer, 21
  • John B. Ray, 21
  • Kyle J. Bauer, 21

Kluttz, Muehlstein, Petagine, Oppenheimer and Ray all held leadership positions in the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity Coffey was trying to join.

Attorneys for the students were notified of the intent to charge them and they’ve been asked to turn themselves in. They will each be charged with hazing causing injury or death, a third-degree felony.

Florida State suspended its fraternities and sororities with no timetable on when they would be reinstated. Pi Kappa Phi’s national office closed its FSU chapter.

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