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4 plead not guilty in drinking death at Louisiana State

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Four young men pleaded not guilty on Friday to criminal charges in the drinking death of a Louisiana State University fraternity pledge.

Matthew Alexander Naquin, 20, of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, was arraigned on a negligent homicide charge in the September 2017 death of 18-year-old Maxwell Gruver, a freshman from Roswell, Georgia. The felony charge is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Three others pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor hazing charges. Sean-Paul Gott, 21, of Lafayette, Louisiana; Ryan Isto, 19, of the Canadian town of Oakville, Ontario; and Patrick Forde, 21, of Westwood, Massachusetts, face a maximum of 30 days in jail if convicted.

State District Judge Beau Higginbotham scheduled a Sept. 6 trial for the three charged with hazing. He did not immediately set a date for Naquin.

Police originally arrested 10 people last year, but East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors presented a grand jury with evidence of possible charges against nine of them. Ultimately, the grand jury indicted only the four defendants on March 15.

Gruver's blood-alcohol content was more than six times the legal limit for driving after a night of drinking at the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house. Fraternity members found him lying on a couch and couldn't tell if he was breathing. He died at a Baton Rouge hospital later that day. A coroner said the cause was acute alcohol intoxication, with aspiration: He had inhaled vomit and other fluid into his lungs.

Naquin's attorney, John McLindon said he believes his client is being singled out unfairly.

"The problem with alcohol on college campuses is bigger than just one person. The problem is a lot bigger than just Matthew Naquin," he said.

But witnesses said Naquin singled out Gruver during a hazing ritual involving 18 to 20 pledges, and forced him to drink more than the others the night before his death, according to a police report. Naquin targeted Gruver because he was frequently late for events and forced him to drink because he was having trouble reciting the Greek alphabet during "Bible Study," a ritual testing their fraternity knowledge, witnesses told police.

Naquin was "a main participant during the hazing event," Jeff Malone, an investigator for the district attorney's office, wrote in a court filing last month.

"LSU Police reports indicate that Naquin was the most aggressive, and in charge of the hazing incident," Malone added.

One pledge said Gruver was made to take at least 10 to 12 "pulls" of 190-proof Diesel, while other pledges had to drink less of the hard liquor, according to the police report.

All of the defendants were associated with Phi Delta Theta, but none of them is currently enrolled at LSU. Forde wasn't a student at LSU at the time. LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard said federal law bars the university from disclosing whether the others withdrew from LSU or were expelled or suspended.

Last month, Gruver's parents visited Louisiana's Capitol to testify in favor of a bill that would make hazing a felony in cases resulting in somebody's death. The maximum sentence for a felony hazing conviction would be five years in prison. The House unanimously passed the legislation, which awaits a vote in the Senate.

Winning numbers drawn in 'Georgia FIVE Midday' game

ATLANTA (AP) _ The winning numbers in Friday afternoon's drawing of the Georgia Lottery's "Georgia FIVE Midday" game were:

9-5-6-7-3

(nine, five, six, seven, three)

Winning numbers drawn in 'Cash 4 Midday' game

ATLANTA (AP) _ The winning numbers in Friday afternoon's drawing of the Georgia Lottery's "Cash 4 Midday" game were:

3-3-6-8

(three, three, six, eight)

Winning numbers drawn in 'Cash 3 Midday' game

ATLANTA (AP) _ The winning numbers in Friday afternoon's drawing of the Georgia Lottery's "Cash 3 Midday" game were:

3-0-6

(three, zero, six)

Column: Vegas provides a new template for expansion teams

Dan Bouchard can appreciate, better than most, the Miracle in the Desert.

He was a goalie for the expansion Atlanta Flames back in the 1970s, so he knows how difficult it is to build a competitive team from scratch.

"It's astonishing what they've done in Vegas," said Bouchard, who still lives in the Atlanta area, when reached by phone this week. "I think it's the greatest thing to happen to hockey since the Miracle on Ice," he added, referring to the seminal U.S. upset of the mighty Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympics. "It's that good."

Indeed, Vegas has set a new norm for expansion teams in all sports. No longer will it be acceptable to enter a league with a squad full of dregs and take your lumps for a few years, all while fans willingly pay big-league prices to watch an inferior product.

The Golden Knights have come up with a stunning new template for how this expansion thing can be done.

They romped to the Pacific Division title with 51 wins. In the opening round of the playoffs, they finished off the Los Angeles Kings in four straight games , casting aside a franchise that has a pair of Stanley Cup titles this decade while becoming the first expansion team in NHL history to sweep a postseason series in its debut year.

Imagine how storied franchises in Montreal and Detroit and Edmonton must be feeling right about now.

They didn't even make the playoffs.

From Bouchard's perspective, it's all good. Vegas' success right out of the starting gate will make everyone raise their game in the years to come.

"This will wake up the teams that are sitting on $90 million budgets and not doing anything," he said. "People will say, 'If Vegas can do it, we can do it.' That's a paradigm shift in the game."

When one considers how NHL expansion teams have fared over the years, the Vegas story becomes even more compelling.

The Golden Knights are the first new team in the NHL's modern era to have a winning record in their inaugural season, a period that began in 1967 and encompasses 26 new franchises (including one, the ill-fated California Seals, who are no longer around).

Only six other first-year teams have made the playoffs - and that includes four that were assured of postseason berths in the landmark 1967 expansion. You see, when the NHL finally broke out of its Original Six format, doubling in size to a dozen teams, it placed all the new franchises in the same division, with the top four getting postseason berths even with sub-.500 records.

Until the Golden Knights came along, the Florida Panthers were the gold standard for NHL expansion. They finished one game below .500 in their first season (1993-94) and missed the playoffs by a single point. In Year 3, they had their first winning record and made it all the way to the Stanley Cup final, though they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche.

That remains the closest the Panthers have come to winning a title.

In Sin City, the wait for a championship figures to be much shorter. Heck, the Golden Knights might do it this year.

They're 12 wins away from hoisting the Stanley Cup in a city that has always had a soft spot for long shots.

"We're still a few wins away from this being a great story," said goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, a key contributor to the Golden Knights success.

Even now, it seems like a bit of dream to coach Gerard Gallant, who thankfully will be remembered for something other than getting left at the curb to hail his own cab after being fired by the Panthers.

"When this all started in October, we just wanted to compete," Gallant said. "Now we're going to the second round of the playoffs. It's unreal."

For sure, the Golden Knights wound up with a much more talented roster than most expansion teams - partly through astute planning, partly through getting access to better players as a reward for doling out a staggering $500 million expansion fee, which was a more than six-fold increase over the $80 million required of Minnesota and Columbus to enter the league in 2000.

The expansion draft netted a top-line goalie in Fleury, who helped Pittsburgh win three Stanley Cups; center Jonathan Marchessault, a 30-goal scorer in Florida who was surprisingly left exposed by the Panthers; and winger James Neal, who had scored more than 20 goals in all nine of his NHL seasons. It also provided a solid group of defensemen: Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt, Deryk Engelland and Brayden McNabb.

In addition, the Golden Knights wisely nabbed young Swedish center William Karlsson, who hadn't done much in Columbus but became Vegas' leading scorer with 43 goals and 35 assists.

"They've got some top centers. They've got some real good defense. They've got good goaltending," Bouchard observed. "They went right down the middle. That's how the built it. Then they complemented it with the fastest guys they could get their hands on. They went for speed."

Previous expansion teams didn't have it nearly as good.

Bouchard actually played on one of the better first-year teams when the Flames entered the league in 1972. They were in playoff contention much of the season and finished with more points than four other teams in the 16-team league, including the storied Toronto Maple Leafs.

But that was a team that had to struggle for every win. The Flames had only three 20-goal scorers and were largely carried by their two young goalies, Bouchard and Phil Myre.

"We didn't have a bona fide 30-goal scorer," Bouchard recalled. "We had a lot of muckers."

That was then.

The Golden Knights have shown how it should be done.

If expansion teams are going to fork over enormous fees for the chance to play, they should have access to a much better pool of potential players.

They should have a chance to win right away.

That way, everyone wins.

___

Paul Newberry is a sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry@ap.org or at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry

___

AP Sports Writer Beth Harris in Los Angeles contributed to this column.

___

For more AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Alabama man, 83, executed for judge's 1989 mail-bomb slaying

ATMORE, Ala. (AP) - An Alabama inmate convicted of the mail-bomb slaying of a federal judge during a wave of Southern terror in 1989 was executed by lethal injection Thursday, becoming the oldest prisoner put to death in the U.S. in modern times.

Walter Leroy Moody Jr., 83, was pronounced dead at 8:42 p.m. following an injection at the Alabama prison at Atmore. He had no last statement and did not respond when an official asked if he had any last words shortly before the chemicals began flowing.

Authorities said Moody sent out four mail bombs in December of 1989, killing Judge Robert S. Vance, a member of the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Alabama and Robert E. Robinson, a black civil rights attorney from Savannah, Georgia. Two other bombs, including one mailed to the NAACP office in Jacksonville, Florida, were intercepted and did not explode.

At his 1996 trial, prosecutors described Moody as a meticulous coward who killed Vance with murder by mail because of his obsession with getting revenge on the legal system, and then committed additional package bombings to make it look like the Ku Klux Klan was behind the judge's murder.

Moody became the oldest U.S. inmate put to death since executions resumed in the U.S. in the 1970s, according to the non-profit Death Penalty Information Center. His attorneys argued in court filings and a clemency petition to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey that his age and vein condition would make lethal injection more difficult.

The U.S. Supreme Court temporarily stayed execution plans Thursday evening to consider Moody's late appeals, but later lifted the stay without comment, allowing the execution to go forward.

Vance was at his kitchen table in Mountain Brook, Alabama, on Dec. 16, 1989, when he opened a package after a morning of errands and yard work.

The explosion ripped through the home near Birmingham, killing Vance instantly and severely injuring his wife, Helen. Prosecutors said Moody, who had attended law school, had a grudge against the legal system because the 11th Circuit refused to overturn a 1972 pipe-bomb possession conviction that prevented him from practicing law.

Moody was first convicted in 1991 in federal court and sentenced to seven life terms plus 400 years. He was later convicted in state court in 1996 and sentenced to death for Vance's murder.

Vance's son, Robert Vance Jr., now a circuit judge in Jefferson County and Democratic candidate for chief justice in Alabama, said it's important that people remember how his father lived, not just how he died.

"He was a great judge, a great lawyer before that, and a great father," he said earlier as the execution loomed. As chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party in the 1960s and 1970s, Vance worked to bring African Americans into the party and often "butted heads" with segregationist Gov. George Wallace, his son said.

Friends said the senior Vance quietly fought for the rights of underprivileged as both a jurist and a politician.

Moody had always maintained his innocence.

In recent weeks, Moody had sent a letter to the younger Vance claiming he was the innocent victim of a government conspiracy. "Had my Dad been murdered, I would want to know who had done it," Moody wrote. The younger Vance said he put the letter in the trash.

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Vance said he had to make peace with his father's death, but said he has no doubt that Moody is guilty. He did not witness the execution.

The lethal injection procedure began at 8:16 p.m. Moody did not open his eyes or respond as the warden read his death warrant and asked him if he had any last words.

Moody's attorney, Spencer Hahn, said he wanted to know what the prison system "gave him before to knock him out and prevent him from getting to give his last words. There was no dignity in that room. This dishonored the memory of Judge Vance and Mr. Robinson," Hahn said.

Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said Moody was not given any sedatives.

In last-hour appeals, Moody's attorneys had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay his execution in order to review whether his federal sentence, which was handed down first, could be interrupted. They also argued that the aggravating factors used to impose a death sentence were improper. The nation's high court had no comment on those last-minute appeals Thursday.

Moody's attorneys, in their unsuccessful clemency petition argued that his victim was opposed to the death penalty, and halting the execution would honor Vance's beliefs. Vance's son said his father opposed the death penalty personally, but also believed in following the law.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said Thursday night that after nearly 30 years, "Tonight, Mr. Moody's appeals finally came to a rightful end. Justice has been served."

___

Associated Press writer Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama, contributed to this report.

Judge rejects condemned inmate's argument for resentencing

ATLANTA (AP) - A judge on Friday declined to hold a new sentencing for a condemned Georgia inmate who argued he should be resentenced because he wouldn't get the death penalty if he were sentenced today.

Robert Earl Butts Jr., 40, is scheduled to die May 3. He and 41-year-old Marion Wilson Jr. were convicted and sentenced to death in the March 1996 slaying of Donovan Corey Parks in central Georgia.

Butts' lawyers argued in a court filing earlier this week that he should have a new sentencing.

The murder for which Butts and Wilson were sentenced had a single victim. There was just one aggravating factor, a circumstance that increases the severity of a crime and increases the possible sentence. According to sentencing data obtained and analyzed by Butts' lawyers, no one has been sentenced to death for a murder with one victim and one aggravating factor in over a decade.

That fact, they argue, "raises a threshold inference that Butts' death sentence is grossly disproportionate," they argue.

Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Chief Judge William Prior Jr. on Friday declined to hold a new sentencing. The state Supreme Court has the responsibility of judging proportionality and has already determined Butts' sentence is not disproportionate, he wrote.

But even if his court were the appropriate place for the argument, Prior wrote, Butts unnecessarily waited until right before his execution to make the argument and failed to show that the data presented would be likely to result in a different result.

Butts and Wilson asked Parks for a ride outside a Walmart store in Milledgeville, about 93 miles (150 kilometers) southeast of Atlanta. After they'd gone a short distance they ordered him to stop the car, dragged him out and killed him with a single shot to the back of his head, prosecutors said.

They tried unsuccessfully to sell Parks' car and ended up driving it to a remote part of Macon and setting fire to it.

Appeals in Wilson's case are still pending.

USA Gymnastics settles sex abuse lawsuit

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - USA Gymnastics has reached a confidential settlement in a Georgia lawsuit that spurred a newspaper investigation into the organization's practices for reporting child abuse.

A former gymnast filed the lawsuit against USA Gymnastics in 2013, alleging that the organization that trains Olympians received at least four warnings about coach William McCabe, who videotaped her in various states of undress.

The lawsuit revealed that USA Gymnastics wouldn't forward child sex abuse allegations to authorities unless they were in writing and signed by a victim or a victim's parent.

A judge in Effingham County, Georgia, dismissed the lawsuit on April 12, according to court records. USA Gymnastics admits no wrongdoing or liability in the settlement, said W. Brian Cornwell of Cornwell & Stevens LLP, the gymnast's lawyer.

Both parties have declined to comment on the settlement.

"We want to make it clear that the settlement does not prevent the former gymnast from speaking publicly about her experiences," USA Gymnastics said in a statement Thursday.

McCabe pleaded guilty in Georgia in 2006 to federal charges of sexual exploitation of children and making false statements. He's serving a 30-year prison sentence.

The suit sparked The Indianapolis Star's investigation of USA Gymnastics, which exposed abuse by Larry Nassar, a former Michigan State University sports doctor, and spurred the resignations of the organization's president and board.

Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty to molesting patients and possessing child pornography. He was sentenced this year to prison terms that will keep him locked up for life after roughly 200 women gave statements against him in two courtrooms over 10 days.

USA Gymnastics faces additional lawsuits from women who say Nassar sexually abused them. The suits allege the organization was negligent, fraudulent and intentionally inflicted emotional distress by failing to warn or protect athletes from Nassar's abuse. The organization has denied the allegations and wants the lawsuits dismissed.

___

Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

Former Brown University president takes over at Prairie View

PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas (AP) - Retired Brown University President Ruth Simmons is being installed as president of Prairie View A&M University, making her the first female leader of the school in Texas.

Simmons, who also was president at Massachusetts' Smith College and served in executive positions at Princeton and Spellman College, takes over Friday at Prairie View for George Wright.

Wright returned to teaching history last year after holding the top job for 14 years.

Simmons has been serving as interim president. She retired from Brown in 2012 after 11 years as the first black president of an Ivy League school and returned to her native Houston.

Prairie View, part of the Texas A&M University System, has about 8,700 students on its campus located 45 miles (72 kilometers) northwest of Houston.

GA Lottery

ATLANTA (AP) _ These Georgia lotteries were drawn Friday:

02-03-04-06-07-10-11-14-16-17-18-19

(two, three, four, six, seven, ten, eleven, fourteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen)

Estimated jackpot: $80 million

Estimated jackpot: $142 million

Mega Millions

Powerball

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