A Wood County jury found two former fraternity members not guilty of causing the death of Stone Foltz.
Jacob Krinn and Troy Henricksen were found guilty of hazing and violating underage alcohol laws.
They were charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide in Foltz’s death, but the jury found them not guilty of those charges.
Samuel Shamansky, Krinn’s attorney, said his client was “grateful, relieved, like the happiest man on the earth” after being found not guilty of the felony charges.
The process has “been like hell on earth” for Krinn after he was labeled a killer and wrongly accused, he said.
Shamansky said the jury came to its decision “because they are smart and intuitive. … Our client is eternally grateful to those 12 people.”
Henricksen’s attorney, Eric Long, said his client is conflicted about the verdict.
“He was accused of tremendously serious crimes, and I think he is grateful to the jury and the care they gave to this case,” he said.
Henricksen is frustrated, however, after being falsely accused and the process he has had to go through the last 14 months, Long said.
The jury deliberated one hour Thursday and seven hours Friday after eight days of testimony.
Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson said he was proud of his staff and the investigators who have worked tirelessly on this case.
“It wasn’t the result we felt completely should have been, but we appreciate the jury (and) the fact that … they put their heart and soul into it,” he said.
The Foltz family released a statement through their attorney:
“As we sat in the courtroom day after day listening to excruciating testimony about Stone’s final moments, we grieved. Not just for the senseless death of our beloved eldest son, but for the lives of the young men who are now being held accountable for their reckless and self-serving actions,” said Cory and Shari Foltz.
“It didn’t have to be this way, and make no mistake, it will happen again until Greek organizations and the universities that support them end hazing for good. We loved Stone deeply, and we lost him so young. We needed to hear the details and the truth about what happened to him that night, and we are grateful for the team that worked tirelessly to prosecute this case and the jury for their time and attention.
“While the trial is concluded, our commitment to Stone lives on. We will not rest until hazing is eradicated on all university campuses.”
Rex Elliott and Sean Alto, attorneys for the Foltz family, said that the jury’s verdict sends a clear message: Hazing is a crime, and those who partake in it will be held accountable.
“In addition, the Greek organizations and universities that create environments where hazing thrives must also be held accountable for their culpable inaction,” the attorneys said.
“Krinn, Henrickson and the six other young men convicted in this case mirrored learned behaviors that should have been stopped years ago. Until people in power step up and end hazing for good, more wonderful families will be in the same position as the Foltz family — forced to sit in a courtroom replaying the excruciating last moments of their son’s completely unnecessary and senseless death.”
Foltz, a Bowling Green State University sophomore from Delaware, Ohio, died March 7, 2021, after a Pi Kappa Alpha party March 4. He reportedly drank a 1-liter bottle of bourbon before being taken back to his apartment by Krinn and others, and left alone.
Krinn was Foltz’s Big at the party, which was held to initiate new members.
Krinn, 21, also of Delaware, was found guilty of obstructing official business, a second-degree misdemeanor; hazing, a fourth-degree misdemeanor; and failure to comply with underage alcohol laws, an unclassified felony.
The jury found him not guilty of involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault and reckless homicide.
Henricksen, 24, Grove City, was found guilty of seven counts hazing and eight counts of violating the same alcohol law as Krinn,
He was the fraternity’s new member educator in March 2021.
The jury also found Henricksen not guilty of homicide and manslaughter.
The attorneys for both men said there may be appeals.
Elliott said it has been an excruciating two weeks for the Foltz family.
“I think reliving it was pretty difficult,” Elliott said about having to watch the videos of Foltz as part of the trial. “But they are extraordinarily appreciative of the job the state did.”
Elliott said this would have been a different result if the Ohio Legislature had enacted an anti-hazing law earlier.
The law, which was signed by Gov. Mike DeWine in July 2021, makes hazing a felony.
It is named for Collin Wiant, an 18-year-old Ohio University freshman who died from a hazing incident in 2018.
Dobson said the potential penalty for misdemeanor hazing is up to 30 days in jail. The penalty for the alcohol law violation is up to six months in jail and a mandatory $500 fine, up to $1,000.
That is for each charge, he said.
A jail sentence of up to 90 days could be imposed for the obstruction charge, for which Henricksen was found guilty.
Sentencing will be July 8 at 3 p.m. for Krinn and July 29 at 3 p.m. for Henricksen.
Elliott said there needs to be consequences for the students as well as the adults who have set up this hazing system.
“These kids are responsible but they are only behaving within a system that was created for them by national fraternities and universities,” he said.
Dobson said he appreciated the Foltzes for the strength they showed in going through the trial.
“It was a very difficult process for everybody,” he said.
“They were very pleased that the hazing charges resulted in convictions. That’s obviously what we all want to have stopped,” Dobson said. “The fact that it results in tragic situations like this … it just has to be stopped,” he said.
“They’re not going to give up the fight,” he said about the Foltz family, “and neither are we. (His team) said we’d do it all again the same way if we have the same situation.”
The jury did not find Krinn guilty of causing Foltz’s death as a result of reckless actions, including hazing.
The jury did rule that Krinn was guilty of obstructing official business after he lied to police when they first asked him if he knew anything about the March 4 party at the off-campus fraternity house.
The definition of hazing, as used by the state, was that he recklessly participated in an act of initiation, or hazing, which caused a substantial risk of harm to Foltz.
The failure to comply charge was made because Krinn furnished alcohol to Foltz, who was under the age of 21.
During her closing arguments, Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Gross said all the charges against Henricksen were due to his complicity in the party and Foltz’s death, even if he didn’t participate or was not in attendance.
To be found guilty, the jury had to decide whether he was complicit in each charge.
The tampering charge was for Henricksen’s actions March 4-5, when he destroyed records or aided another in destroying records while knowing there was an investigation in progress.
Henricksen also was found guilty of recklessly participating in or aiding in hazing, which created substantial risk to Foltz. The remaining seven hazing charges were for the remaining pledges.
The jury found him guilty of seven counts of furnishing alcohol to minors after it was shared he told the Bigs to get the bottles for their Littles, who were under the age of 21.
The jury was not convinced he was complicit in manslaughter and homicide.
The case was about personal choice, which regrettably led to tragic circumstances, Long said.
The lack of a felony conviction will allow Henricksen to be commissioned as an officer in the Army, he said.
Prior to the jury getting the case Thursday, Shamansky asked the court to dismiss the charges against his client, saying the critical element of causation had not been established.
Wood County Common Pleas Judge Joel Kuhlman denied the request and said the evidence could withstand a conviction.
Long made a similar request, stating evidence didn’t support the complicity language used by the state.
Kuhlman also denied that request.
Elliott said there in ongoing litigation, which includes a civil lawsuit by the Foltz family against the international fraternity, the local branch of Pi Kappa Alpha and several individuals.
He said they are taking a close look at the role BGSU had in Foltz’s death.