Student gets jail time for her part in USU hazing death

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LOGAN -- A Utah State University student will go to jail for giving alcohol to a minor. She is one of a dozen students who were charged in the alcohol poisoning death of a fellow student.

Kelly Terrill, Michael Starks' sister, said, "Our brother is gone forever; and at some point, somebody needs to call these things more than just a mistake. They are choices we make, and there are consequences for those choices."

The family of 18-year-old Starks kept the jacket he wore the night he died. In court, Starks' father, George, showed it to the judge.

"I do intend to keep it as a reminder that this whole situation could have easily been avoided," he said.

Michael Starks
Michael Starks

Starks' family wore T-shirts with words of love and courage, what they call, "Michael's Creed." They say none of his friends lived up to that the night he died.

In November, Starks, a USU freshman, was pledging a fraternity. In court, fellow student Whitney Miller, who gave Starks the alcohol, made a tearful apology. But the judge wasn't convinced that Miller, who has had three alcohol-related arrests, understood the seriousness of the crime. He ordered her to serve 30 days in jail and 200 hours talking to students about the dangers of alcohol.

"It took my son's life for someone to say, 'Hey wait a minute, this girl has been arrested before for underage drinking,' and that's the heartbreak of the tragedy," George Starks said.

It's a tragedy, they say, that also shed light on the ritual of hazing.

"I think this is a microscope of what's going on nationwide, but also here in Logan, Utah," George said.

Starks would have turned 19 last Friday. His family celebrated his birthday at the cemetery. They hope his death, will prevent others.

"The only good that can conceivably come out of my son's death is that it can, in a sense, serve as a deterrent for other kids who would face the same problem," George said.

At least two other students have been sentenced in this case.

The Starks family has filed a civil suit against the students and the fraternity and sorority involved.


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