Stone Foltz just wanted to belong.
The Bowling Green State University student’s desire to become a member of Pi Kappa Alpha killed him, said Wood County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jim Hoppenjans in opening statements on Tuesday in the trial of two men charged in Foltz’s hazing death.
“He wanted to be a member of Pike (Pi Kappa Alpha),” Hoppenjans said, which led to a power imbalance and Foltz’s death due to hazing and alcohol poisoning.
Jacob Krinn and Troy Henricksen are charged with involuntary manslaughter after a fraternity initiation party that led to Foltz’s death in March 2021.
Krinn’s attorney, Samuel Shamansky, said there was no crime committed.
“It’s not felonious assault to give somebody a bottle of alcohol,” he said. “When you hear the law you’ll understand that this is a tragedy in search of a crime.”
Eric Long, Henricksen’s attorney, said his client wasn’t even at the fraternity party and did not see Foltz that night.
“This case is about personal choices,” Long said, adding that no one forced Foltz to drink. “What you’re going to hear is testimony about generalized pressure.”
Krinn, 21, Delaware, has been indicted for first-degree felony involuntary manslaughter; third-degree felony involuntary manslaughter; third-degree reckless homicide; felonious assault, a second-degree felony; one count hazing, a fourth-degree misdemeanor; one count failure to comply with underage alcohol laws, an unclassified misdemeanor; and obstructing official business, a second-degree misdemeanor.
The first-degree manslaughter charge reflects the allegation that Krinn caused Foltz’s death as a result of committing a felony. The state is alleging that felony was felonious assault.
The first-degree manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 11 years in prison.
If Krinn is found guilty on all charges, he faces a maximum 19 years in prison.
Henricksen, 24, Grove City, was indicted for felony involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, tampering with evidence, eight counts hazing and seven counts failure to comply with underage alcohol laws.
The trial proceedings started Monday and it took the better part of two days to seat a jury. Opening statements were made late Tuesday afternoon.
Hoppenjans said that Krinn’s actions let to Foltz’s death.
“He didn’t mean to cause his death, but his conduct was reckless,” Hoppenjans said. “He handed him the bottle with the expectation that he would drink it — all.”
The Pike fraternity was widely regarded as one of the most popular on the BGSU campus, and Foltz wanted to join, he said.
There were eight other men who were also pledging.
“It made them vulnerable,” Hoppenjans said. “There’s a power imbalance. It was used against them.”
Henricksen was the new member educator, and involved in all aspects of teaching them how to become Pikes, Hoppenjans said.
There were meetings twice a week, to learn about Pike history, the philanthropy, the Greek letters.
The pledges also had to clean for their Big Brothers and wear formal attire all day on Thursdays.
Hoppenjans said that this led up to another Pike tradition: The family bottle.
“The Big gives a bottle of liquor to the Little. This bottle is the same brand, same type that your Big received from his Big,” he said.
The expectation was that the Little would drink that whole bottle, in the shortest time possible, he said.
“Why? Because that’s the tradition,” Hoppenjans said. “If you expect to become a Pike, you do Pike things.”
The pledges were instructed to prepare for the initiation by bringing bread and water, which would help them consume the alcohol, and call off classes for Friday.
They showed up on March 4, 2021 at the unofficial frat house at 318 N. Main St. — in formal attire — to drink, Hoppenjans said.
Foltz was given a 1-liter bottle of Evan Williams liquor, he said.
“It wasn’t good enough just to try, it was expected that you finish the bottle, even if you’re vomiting,” Hoppenjans said.
Foltz drank the bottle in less than 30 minutes, he said.
An hour later, Krinn took him back to his apartment, then left Foltz, who was unconscious, despite the Pike tradition that the Big stays with the Little, Hoppenjans said.
“He just wanted to get to the bars that night,” he said of Krinn.
Foltz’s roommate found him and called Foltz’s girlfriend, who called a friend in a nursing program. She told them to call 911.
By then, Foltz was blue and his ears were turning purple, Hoppenjans said. He died that Sunday.
His blood alcohol level was 0.35 and the autopsy determined he died of alcohol intoxication.
“Accidents just don’t happen, they’re caused,” Hoppenjans said.
Shamansky said the evidence would show Foltz chose to drink the bottle.
“I’m here to explain to you in no uncertain terms … the truth,” he said. “I’m going to prove to you it’s about what Jacob Krinn did, and here’s the easy part — back when this fraternity rigmarole was getting started, Jacob was 20 years of age.
“He was the same age as his friend Stone Foltz.”
Shamansky said Foltz and Krinn had known each other since they were in fifth grade, played basketball together, and both came from good families. They both attended BGSU, where Krinn had started in the fraternity a year before Foltz.
He said that the only tradition for the Big/Little event on March 4 was that a bottle of liquor exchanged hands.
“That is as far as the tradition went. What the Little did with his bottle of liquor was his choice and nobody else’s,” Shamansky said.
Krinn did not force Foltz to drink, he said.
“You will not hear one shred of evidence — mark my words — that Jacob Krinn did anything under the sun to encourage, to force, to compel, to haze his friend Stone Foltz to drink that bottle of liquor,” he said.
Shamansky said that Krinn enlisted two friends, including a sober driver, to help take Foltz home. Believing Foltz was sleeping, Krinn left after about 30 minutes, Shamansky said.
“The roommates come and the tragedy unfolds — unspeakable tragedy — but he didn’t cause it. He didn’t facilitate it. He didn’t make it so,” Shamansky said.
When the police came to his door at 4 a.m., Krinn, a “scared 20 year old,” lied, Shamansky said. But he told the truth later.
Eric Long, representing Henricksen, described his client as a responsible young man who was sleeping blocks away when all of this happened.
Henricksen was a senior at BGSU, had started a business and was a cadet in ROTC. He had to be at training at 6:30 a.m. March 5.
“He wasn’t there,” Long said, adding that he didn’t purchase alcohol for the event and did not give any bottles to the Littles.
Henricksen did not take Foltz to his apartment or see him, Long said.
The trial continues on Wednesday.