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The Orion
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 Sunday  Nov. 13, 2005
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A PLEDGE'S DEATH

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The Orion / EMILY WHEELER
Jerry Ming Lim, right, and Gabriel John Maestretti listen to Judge Stephen Benson before going to jail to serve their sentences in the hazing death of Matthew Carrington on Friday at the Butte County Courthouse.
3 Chi Tau men plead guilty to felony charges
Lauren Brooks
Staff Writer
October 28, 2005

Click here to view a photo slideshow from Friday's hearing.

OROVILLE - Four former-fraternity men pled guilty to misdemeanor hazing charges today and three also pled guilty to felony manslaughter charges, following the Feb. 2 death of pledge Matthew Carrington, at Butte County Superior Court.

The four men of the now-defunct Chi Tau fraternity faced felony charges for involuntary manslaughter, but entered guilty pleas at the hearing rather than face the Nov. 2 trial where they could have received the maximum punishment of four years in prison.

Gabriel John Maestretti, 22; Jerry Ming Lim, 25; and John Paul Fickes, 20, pleaded guilty to both the manslaughter and hazing charges, while Carlos James DeVilla Abrille, 22, pleaded guilty only to the hazing charge.

Further investigation showed there wasn't enough evidence against Abrille for the felony charge to be appropriate, District Attorney Mike Ramsey said.

Abrille will serve 90 days in jail, while Lim and Fickes each received six months in jail.

Maestretti faces one year in jail and a fine of about $3,160.

While standing in the courtroom, Maestretti cried as he read his guilty plea.

He said he wanted to take full responsibility for his actions and was sorry for the part he played in Carrington's death.

"I will live with the consequences of this hazing for the rest of my life," Maestretti said.

He apologized to Carrington's family and friends and accepted his punishment in the hope that it would serve as a warning to others, he said.

Lim was also tearful as he read his statement to the court, pleading guilty to both charges.

"Nothing I can say here today will bring back Matthew Carrington or lessen the grief that his family feels. But I want them to know that I will do whatever I can to inform others of the stupidity and dangerousness of hazing," Lim said.

Fickes cried as he addressed Carrington's family.

"No words can adequately convey my sorrow and regret. I pray that in time you can forgive me," he said.

 
The Orion / EMILY WHEELER
After reading a letter to the courtroom about losing her son, Matthew Carrington's mother, Debbie Smith, cries with her husband Greg Smith on Friday at the Butte County Courthouse.
Abrille apologized to the family and, like Lim, said he will do whatever he can to end hazing.

Superior Court Judge Stephen Benson placed the men on formal probation and said they will also take part in an anti-hazing program.

Maestretti, Lim and Fickes will be on probation for five years, while Abrille faces three years of probation.

The judge signed the men's pleas and the bailiffs handcuffed them on the spot.

Two other former Chi Tau men, Richard Joseph Hirth, 23, and Trent Stiefvater, 21, face misdemeanor charges for hazing and potentially a year in jail. They will have a hearing in November. On Oct. 3, former Chi Tau member Michael Fernandes, 20, received 30 days in jail after pleading no contest to hazing charges.

Lauren Brooks can be reached at
lbrooks@orion-online.net

3 Chi Tau men plead guilty to felony charges
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10/29/2005 Is It Enough? Did Judge Benson send... Susan Lipkins
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