Charges 'likely' in Texas State student's death, SMPD chief says

New details tonight surrounding the death of a Phi Kappa Psi fraternity pledge at Texas State University. The executive director of the fraternity says the Texas State chapter was suspended the week before the death of Matthew Ellis.

SAN MARCOS, TEXAS - The death of a 20-year-old Texas State University student over the weekend will likely result in criminal charges, San Marcos police say.

Police Chief Chase Stapp told KVUE News and the Austin American-Statesman on Wednesday that charges related to Matthew Ellis' death are likely based on a preliminary review of evidence in the case.

"I think it is pretty likely we are going to have some kind of criminal case," Stapp said. "Once we know the complete picture, we will have to have discussions with the district attorney on the most appropriate course of actions."

The City of San Marcos said that the investigation could take months to resolve and that no charges have been filed in his death as of Wednesday.

“This is an ongoing investigation, and it’s too early to know if criminal charges will be warranted,” Stapp said. “Once all the evidence is known, if we have probable cause to file charges we’ll work with the district attorney’s office to move forward at that time.”

Ellis, from Humble, Texas, was a sophomore in the College of Business Administration. According to the The University Star, the university's student paper, Ellis died in his sleep Nov. 12 following an initiation at Phi Kappa Psi. The national organization said in a statement that the chapter was suspended last week for unrelated matters.

Phi Kappa Psi released the following statement:

"We are heartbroken by the death of Texas State University student and Phi Kappa Psi new member Matthew Ellis," said Phi Kappa Psi Executive Director Mark Guidi. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and the entire TSU student body during this difficult time."

The chapter had been suspended by Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, Inc. last week for unrelated matters, and will remain suspended while the investigation continues. Phi Kappa Psi will continue to work closely with the TXSU administration and law enforcement during their review of this matter, and have advised all members to cooperate fully."

Ellis was found by friends shortly after 11 a.m. Nov. 13, and the city said officers were dispatched to the Millennium Apartments around 11:35 a.m. Ellis was declared deceased shortly before 12:30 p.m.

Texas State University President Denise M. Trauth said in a statement that all Greek activities are suspended. Full statement:

As president of Texas State University, I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of one of our students who attended an off-campus social event on Sunday evening hosted by members of a university fraternity. Following a call from friends, officers with the San Marcos Police Department found Matthew Ellis, a Phi Kappa Psi pledge, unresponsive on Monday morning at an apartment off campus. He was pronounced dead after EMS personnel were unable to revive him. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and the Texas State Community.

As a result of this tragedy, I have suspended activities of all Greek fraternity and sorority chapters at Texas State. These chapters are prohibited from holding new-member events, chapter meetings, social functions, and philanthropic activities until a thorough review of the Greek Affairs system is completed.

I have asked Dr. Joanne Smith, Vice President for Student Affairs, who has responsibility for the Greek Affairs system, to immediately initiate this review and propose recommendations for reinstating fraternity and sorority chapters that demonstrate a commitment to the core values of Texas State and the ideals established by their respective national organizations.

It is imperative that our entire university community develop a culture that places the highest priority on the safety of its students, faculty, and staff.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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