Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Five Arraigned on Murder Charge in Frat Death

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Five Arraigned on Murder Charge in Frat Death

Article excerpt

POCONO PINES,Pa. - Five men accused of participating in or failing to stop a brutal fraternity hazing ritual that killed a New York City college student were arraigned Thursday on murder charges, identified by police as the most culpable of 37 suspects in the case. The suspects, all from the New York borough of Queens, appeared in a northeastern Pennsylvania courtroom nearly two years after the death of Chun "Michael Deng. A magistrate set bail at $500,000 for four of the suspects and $150,000 for the fifth. All but one posted bond.

Police said fraternity members at Pi Delta Psi physically abused Deng, a Baruch College student, then tried to cover it up as the 19- year-old lay dying in their rented house in the Pocono Mountains, about 100 miles west of New York.

Defense lawyers called Deng's death a tragedy but said their clients didn't intend to kill him, characterizing it as a fraternity prank gone horribly awry.

"They're college kids, said Robert Saurman, attorney for defendant Kenny Kwan, 26. "Something bad happened. They did not know how to react. That is not the same as a crime.

Kwan left the courtroom and broke down crying ahead of his arraignment. He was consoled by another defendant, Charles Lai, 24.

The other suspects arraigned Thursday were Raymond Lam, 22; Sheldon Wong, 23; and Daniel Li, 23. Each faces charges of third- degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated and simple assault, hindering apprehension, hazing and conspiracy. Lai and Kwan also face drug charges.

The fraternity itself is charged with murder, and 32 other suspects face less serious charges.

"The fraternity obviously is disappointed, vastly, at the allegations in the criminal complaints, that their members would engage in conduct like this, said Wes Niemoczynski, Pi Delta Psi's attorney, who represented the fraternity at its arraignment. …

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