Fraternity death dispute goes to Florida Supreme Court

A former Florida State University fraternity president and two other men have gone to the state Supreme Court in a dispute about whether they should face felony hazing charges in the 2017 death of a pledge who drank heavily at an off-campus party.

Former Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity chapter President Anthony Petagine and fraternity members Luke Kluttz and Anthony Oppenheimer last week filed notices of taking their cases to the Supreme Court, according to documents posted Tuesday on the court website.

The moves came after a divided panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal in January ruled that the men could face felony charges in the death of Andrew Coffey, 20, a pledge from Broward County who died in November 2017.

The dispute has centered on whether prosecutors showed an adequate basis to pursue felony charges against Petagine, Kluttz and Oppenheimer. The panel of the Tallahassee-based appeals court overturned a ruling by a Leon County circuit judge that dismissed the felony charges.

The appeals court gave a full explanation of its reasoning in the case of Petagine, while reaching the same conclusions in the Kluttz and Oppenheimer cases.

Petagine did not attend the party that resulted in Coffey’s death but had taken part in a meeting before the party in which the danger of pledges becoming intoxicated was discussed, the 2-1 majority opinion said. Also, he had allowed liquor to be served at the party.

As is common, the notices filed last week do not detail arguments that attorneys for the men will make at the Supreme Court.