OU frat member arrested for furnishing alcohol to minor
NORMAN, Okla. ” Police on Tuesday arrested a University of Oklahoma fraternity member for allegedly furnishing alcohol to a minor on the night a 19-year-old pledge consumed a fatal amount of alcohol.
Cody Barrington made an initial appearance in Cleveland County District Court on a felony charge of furnishing alcohol to a minor. A judge released him on his own recognizance, a jailer at the Cleveland County Detention Center said.
Barrington, 21, was a resident at the Sigma Chi fraternity house, where Blake Adam Hammontree was found dead on Sept. 30. The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office determined Friday that Hammontree had a blood alcohol level of 0.42, five times the legal limit for intoxication.
Kevin Rowland, chief investigator for the medical examiner, said consumption on that level is considered a lethal dose of alcohol.
Hammontree’s death was the third confirmed alcohol-related death at a U.S. college this fall. Last month, Lynn Gordon Bailey Jr., 18, a freshman at the University of Colorado, died of acute alcohol poisoning after a night of drinking with fellow fraternity pledges and Samantha Spady, 19, also died of alcohol poisoning at a Colorado State University fraternity house.
Lt. Tom Easley, a spokesman for the Norman Police Department, said Barrington’s arrest arose out of an investigation into Hammontree’s death. More arrests may be forthcoming, Easley said.
District Attorney Tim Kuykendall said Barrington wasn’t arrested or charged for furnishing alcohol to Hammontree but for providing alcohol to another fraternity member who is underage.
“There very well may be other people charged similarly to Mr. Barrington for furnishing alcohol to others, or the charges may be much more serious than these felony charges,” Kuykendall said.
There were more than 100 people at a big brother/little brother party at the Sigma Chi house on Sept. 30, Kuykendall said. Getting cooperation from witnesses has been difficult, he said.
Barrington, who couldn’t be reached for comment on Tuesday, is accused of purchasing a cinnamon-flavored liqueur that comes in 80 and 100 proof amounts, Kuykendall said.
It is a misdemeanor in Oklahoma to furnish a minor with 3.2 percent beer, which isn’t considered an intoxicating beverage under state law. It is a felony to provide a minor with hard liquor or 6.0 percent beer, Kuykendall said.
Earlier Tuesday, Hammontree’s family released a statement expressing gratitude to OU administrators, including President David Boren; those who prayed for them and to the media for respecting their privacy.
“It is also critical for everyone to remember all those precious young men at the Sigma Chi fraternity in Norman,” the statement from Jack, LeAnn and Olivia Hammontree read.
“Contrary to what you may have heard by some in our community, this is not some evil cult that intentionally took our son from us. All indications thus far support no other conclusion than this was simply a terrible, stupid, senseless accident.”
Jack Hammontree is an associate district judge in Grant County.
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