Court hearings changed for several University of Missouri Fiji hazing defendants

Court hearings in ongoing University of Missouri Fiji felony hazing cases have been changed after eight additional grand jury indictments were filed Friday in Boone County Circuit Court.

The indictments supersede previously planned preliminary hearings, including two that had been scheduled this week.

The attorney for the only misdemeanor defendant was granted more time to prepare Tuesday during a brief hearing at the Boone County Courthouse.

The 11 total cases stem from a drinking party last October at the Phi Gamma Delta, or Fiji, fraternity house at MU. Called a "pledge dad reveal night," pledges including Danny Santulli were required to drink large amounts of alcohol.

More:Preliminary hearings set for four Fiji hazing defendants in October, November

Santulli became unresponsive and was driven to MU Hospital, where doctors revived him.

He suffered serious brain damage and can't walk, talk or see. He is at his parents' home in Minnesota.

MU has revoked its recognition of the fraternity. Thirteen fraternity members have been disciplined by the university, officials have said.

An MU banner is taken down as a storm rolls over the Phi Gamma Delta house during their move-out day Oct. 24.
An MU banner is taken down as a storm rolls over the Phi Gamma Delta house during their move-out day Oct. 24.

The preliminary hearings aren't needed, because the grand jury indictments served the same purpose, wrote deputy 13th Judicial Circuit Court administrator Derek Hux in an email.

The preliminary hearings had been scheduled in case the prosecuting attorney wanted to rely on that process instead, Hux wrote.

"It is the prosecutor who decides whether to take the matter before a grand jury instead of having a preliminary hearing," Hux wrote. "It is always one or the other, it is never both."

More:Eight additional felony hazing charges filed in Mizzou Fiji alcohol poisoning incident

The grand jury provides more privacy to victims and witnesses, he wrote.

Eight defendants charged with felony hazing will be arraigned in October and November. Arraignments for Samuel Morrison and Blake Morsovillo are scheduled for Oct. 14. John O'Neill's arraignment is Oct. 17. Samuel Lane, Benjamin Parres, Harrison Reichman and Samuel Gandhi are to be arraigned on Oct. 24. Benjamin Karl's arraignment is Nov. 14.

On Tuesday, a hearing for Bradley Wetzler, the only misdemeanor defendant, was rescheduled for Nov. 22.

Thomas Shultz and Ryan Delanty were the first defendants indicted by a grand jury. Those grand jury indictments were filed in June. Delanty has a felony hearing scheduled for Oct. 7.

In a hearing Monday, the judge set Shultz's next felony hearing for Oct. 24.

Roger McKinney is the education reporter for the Tribune. You can reach him at or 573-815-1719. He's on Twitter at @rmckinney9.

This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Grand jury indictments supersede prelims in Fiji hazing cases