Former student gets six months for fraternity stabbing

Dave O’Brien

Jordan T. Hall will spend six months in the Portage County Jail, with work release privileges, and five years on probation for the March 12 knifepoint assault on two fellow Kent State students.

Calling the incident “a difficult case,” Portage County Common Pleas Judge John Enlow also ordered Hall to submit to random drug and alcohol testing — and treatment, if necessary — and said he would allow him to finish the current semester at Columbus State University before turning himself in on Jan. 2, 2011.

A plea for mercy by defense attorney Errol Can apparently helped convince Enlow not to send Hall, 20, of Shaker Heights to prison for up to 18 months.

Hall pleaded guilty in July to one count of aggravated assault, a fourth-degree felony, and one count of misdemeanor assault, as part of a plea deal with the Portage County Prosecutor’s Office.

A grand jury indicted Hall on two counts of felonious assault, both second-degree felonies, a week after the incident inside the Phi Sigma Kappa house at 216 E. Main St. According to his indictment, Hall stabbed Kent State student Max E. Druiz and attempted to stab student Ryan A. Pilz during an altercation inside the fraternity house.

Assistant Portage County Prosecutor Steve Michniak said Hall’s version of events was not believable.

“All the witnesses said (Hall) and his girlfriend were fighting in the bathroom, arguing loudly. The fraternity members decided to remove them from the party. Mr. Hall took offense and a fight broke out,” he said.

While attempting to flee the house, with “multiple people jumping onto him when the fight broke,” Hall pulled out a pocketknife and stabbed Druiz.

“One has to ask: Why did he bring a knife to a dance party? (Hall) wants us to believe some random fraternity guys wanted to roust him out of a closed bathroom,” Michniak told Enlow.

Can, however, called the case “unlike any others” he has taken on in the past. A defense investigator dug up “more questions as to what occurred here” than were revealed in a Kent Police Department investigation, he said, by talking to witnesses police failed to interview.

Can said that Hall, his girlfriend and several others — all African-American, he said — went to the party at Phi Sigma Kappa and became involved in a fight with a group of white fraternity brothers. Hall also was severely injured during the altercation.

“It’s very unfortunate what occurred. I’m not here to blame the victim, I don’t play that game, Your Honor,” Can said, “My client’s actions speak for themselves, (but) these kinds of circumstances are extremely unlikely to ever occur again.”

Hall has “great remorse for what occurred, understands and takes responsibility for the fact he injured somebody. It’s very unfortunate that situation arose to that level,” Can said.

Druiz, who suffered a punctured lung during the incident, did not appear in court Monday for the sentencing. Hall told Enlow he was “very sorry for the harm I caused to the victims, even though they are not here” in the courtroom.

Hall said he is undergoing therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder because of the incident and is “still getting over things,” but has the support of his girlfriend and family.

“My family has backed me up 100 percent,” Hall told Enlow. “I hope to be gainfully employed and keep myself educated.”

Enlow ordered Hall to pay Druiz’ parents restitution of $8,900 for medical bills incurred during their son’s hospitalization.

Dave O’Brien is a staff writer for the Record-Courier.