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Lawyers: NIU fraternity leaders not to blame for death of freshman

David Bogenberger

David Bogenberger

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Updated: February 6, 2013 6:13AM

Leaders of a Northern Illinois University fraternity aren’t to blame for the death of freshman David Bogenberger during an alleged hazing last November, their attorneys said Friday.

“Everybody, including my client, regrets the death of this young man,” said attorney John Donahue, who represents Pi Kappa Alpha chapter president Alex Jandick.

Jandick and four other student officers face felony hazing charges following Bogenberger’s alcohol-related death during a pledge event at the chapter’s DeKalb frat house.

Another 17 fraternity members have been charged with misdemeanor hazing.

As the first students appeared Friday in DeKalb County court to face the charges, several defense attorneys said Bogenberger’s death was a tragedy, not a crime.

“I don’t believe the state will be able to show this tragic occurrence was the result of criminal conduct,” said attorney Joshua Dieden, who represents Steven Libert, the chapter’s event planner.

Libert, pledge adviser Omar Salameh and chapter vice president James Harvey made brief appearances but didn’t formally enter pleas.

Jandick was scheduled to appear but was excused.

All four received new court dates in February.

The students were charged last month after lab tests showed Bogenberger had a blood-alcohol level more than four times the .08 limit at which a driver is legally considered drunk.

An autopsy concluded the 19-year-old Palatine man died of an irregular heartbeat but listed alcohol intoxication as a “significant condition” that contributed to his death.

The teen was found dead at the frat house on Nov. 2 following a pledge event in which authorities allege he was given questions to answer and then provided vodka to drink.

Libert and others charged are still struggling to cope with Bogenberger’s death, their attorneys said.

“It’s been difficult for Steven because Daniel was a friend,” Dieden said.

A spokeswoman for DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack declined to comment on the case.

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