2 of 11 charged in connection to Adam Oakes’ death appear in court Tuesday

The John Marshall Courts Building is located in downtown Richmond at 400 N. Ninth St. Those charged with hazing university freshman Adam Oakes are being tried there. Photo by Alessandro Latour

Katrina Lee, Contributing Writer 

Status hearings for university students Alexander Bradley and Christian Rohrbach began this Tuesday, in connection to the hazing of freshman Adam Oakes at a Delta Chi fraternity event that resulted in Oakes’ death in February. 

Bradley appeared in court first Tuesday. His attorney, William Dinkin, asked to set the next court date to December. Dinkin asked for this extension to be at least 45 days, in order to discuss the matter of the charges between the defense and prosecution. Both attorneys agreed to the terms of the next court date and did not discuss anything further. 

Rohrbach appeared second to discuss his next court dates. Judge William R. Marchant and attorneys on both sides decided to have a seven-person misdemeanor jury over a two-day trial in the upcoming months. They decided on a two-day trial due to the death aspect of the crime. Rohrbach will be submitting for alcohol and drug testing leading up to his court day.

Rohrbach was previously charged with possession of marijuana in 2019, while Bradley has no priors leading up to the court hearing on Tuesday, according to the Richmond Circuit Court website. 

After a seven-month investigation, 11 were indicted on Sept. 24 for hazing Oakes: Benjamin Corado, Quinn Kuby, Andrew White, Colin Tran, Robert Fritz, Jason Mulgrew, Enayat Sheikhzad, Riley McDaniel, Alessandro Medina-Villanueva, Bradley and Rohrbach. Six of the 11 — Corado, Kuby, White, Tran, Fritz and Bradley — were also charged with “purchase, giving alcohol to a minor,” according to Richmond Police Department spokesperson Tracy Walker.

Both these charges are class one misdemeanors and are punishable by up to a year of jail time and/or up to $2,500 in fines, according to Virginia’s legislative information system.

VCU was unable to provide information about Bradley and Rohrback’s years and disciplinary status at VCU and whether they were members of the Delta Chi chapter, due to student privacy laws, according to VCU spokesperson Michael Porter. VCU was not able to get back to The Commonwealth Times in time for publication as of Oct. 26.

The next court hearings for Sheikhzad and White will take place on Nov. 1 at 9 a.m., according to the Virginia Judiciary online court system. Sheikhzad is a VCU alumnus and White is not currently enrolled at VCU, according to an email from VCU spokesperson Michael Porter on Sept. 28. 

White was charged in 2019 for “failure to pay full time and attention” while driving in Loudoun County, according to the Virginia Judiciary online court system. 

Mulgrew has a motion hearing set for Nov. 5. A motion is a pretrial ruling made by a judge, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

There will also be two upcoming discovery court hearings in November for Medina-Villanueva and Fritz. The discovery hearing for Tran will take place on Dec. 1. Discovery court hearings are formal hearings to exchange information between the parties about the witnesses and evidence that will be presented at trial, according to the American Bar Association. 

More than 50% of college students in organizations experience hazing, which includes practices of alcohol consumption, sleep deprivation, humiliation, isolation and more, according to a study conducted by the University of Dayton. 

Since Oakes’ death, his family have been advocating for making hazing a felony in Virginia. Oakes’s cousin, Country White, started a petition to gain support for the cause. The petition currently has over 77,000 signatures, as of Oct. 26.

Adam Oakes’ father, Eric Oakes, said he has reached out to Del. Kathleen Murphy from Loudoun County for support in making hazing a felony, according to a previous report by The Commonwealth Times.

Currently, 13 states have made hazing resulting in injury or death a felony, including Texas, West Virginia, Florida, Utah and more. A felony charge for hazing can lead up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines according to the Stewart Tilghman Fox Bianchi & Cain law firm. 

“Unfortunately, Adam’s death is not the first in the state of Virginia,” White stated in the petition. “There have been at least 9 deaths in Virginia due to hazing! How many more lives must we lose before action is taken?”

Contributing Writer Gabriela de Camargo Gonçalves contributed to this report.

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