Charges dropped against 5 former Delta Chi members in Adam Oakes death

Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 9:07 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 30, 2022 at 6:59 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Hazing charges against five of the 11 Delta Chi fraternity members charged concerning the death of Virginia Commonwealth University student Adam Oakes were dropped.

According to court records, prosecutors dropped misdemeanor hazing charges against Riley McDaniel, Robert Fritz, Alexander Bradley, Alessandro Medina-Villanueva and Quinn Kuby. Fritz, Bradley and Kuby were also charged with serving alcohol to a minor. Those charges were also dropped.

This decision comes just days after the Love Like Adam Foundation held its first in-person hazing prevention presentation in front of hundreds of students and parents at the University of Lynchburg. The presentation concluded with a panel of three former Delta Chi members who pled guilty to their roles in Oakes’ death and Oakes’ father, Eric Oakes.

But Adam Oakes’s family says it doesn’t feel like justice is being served.

“Are we really ever going to have true justice for Adam? It makes you question everything,” Adam’s cousin Courtney White said. “It does hit you like a mack truck because you realize that there are five people that are going to get off scot-free in what was a hazing incident that led to Adam’s death.”

White says that since the news broke that the charges were dropped, her family has experienced a roller coaster of emotions.

“Just because your charges are dropped doesn’t mean you’re innocent,” White said. " It doesn’t mean they couldn’t call 911 or help.”

But NBC12 legal analyst says moral responsibility isn’t the same as criminal responsibility.

“The responsibility of the criminal justice system is about charging and convicting people if they are guilty of a crime. It is not about assessing moral responsibility,” Benjamin said.

NBC12 reached out to Commonwealth’s Attorney Collete McEachin, who confirmed the charges were dropped. Still, she could not comment on why the charges were dropped, only saying that doing so could interfere with the cases of the three remaining Delta Chi members.

“When you see this kind of motion to withdraw the charges, typically it indicates that upon further investigation, the commonwealth is satisfied either of innocence or that there’s not sufficient enough evidence of criminal responsibility,” Benjamin said. “Just because a person is charged does not mean that they are guilty.”

So far, six former Delta Chi members have either pleaded guilty or no contest. None have received jail time.

Instead, they were ordered to complete community service and participate in anti-hazing education training.

“We’re hoping that the other five see the value of what we’re doing and are seriously remorseful about what happened and will join us voluntarily,” said Eric Oakes.

White says that they have reached out to VCU about hosting the hazing prevention program on campus but have not heard back from the university. The next presentation will be at the UVA College at Wise on Sept. 6.

“If you are truly sorry for our loss, then I want you to come out and present with us,” White said. “Share your story, share your perspective, share about hazing, what the culture of Delta Chi was with other college students about what happened that evening. So that this same thing that happened to Adam doesn’t happen to others.”

Adam Oakes was a freshman at VCU when he was found dead in a home on West Clay Street in February 2021. A Richmond city coroner ruled the cause of death as “ethanol toxicity” and the manner of death as an accident.

The school has permanently disbanded the Delta Chi chapter at VCU following Oakes’ death.