Former Mizzou frat member preps for trial in ‘worst hazing injury in U.S.’

Posted at 2:35 PM, November 27, 2023 and last updated 12:06 PM, November 27, 2023

COLUMBIA, Mo. (Court TV) — A former University of Missouri fraternity member who had been charged in a hazing incident that left another student blind and unable to walk after drinking a liter of vodka, appeared in court virtually Monday ahead of his criminal trial.

Ryan Delanty

Ryan Delanty made his court appearance via zoom on Nov. 27, 2023. Delanty is charged with hazing and supplying alcohol to a minor after allegedly forcing 19-year-old Daniel Santulli to drink beer and a liter of vodka, leaving him blind and unable to walk. (Court TV)

Ryan Delanty, and another former Phi Gamma Delta fraternity member, Thomas Shultz, both of St. Louis County, had been indicted by a Boone County grand jury on felony hazing and misdemeanors of supplying liquor to a minor or intoxicated person in the hazing of 19-year-old Daniel Santulli of Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

Shultz, who also faced a felony charge for tampering with physical evidence in a felony prosecution, pleaded guilty in a plea deal and had been sentenced to 30 days of shock detention – a boot camp-style program – and to a year of probation, community service and a drug education program, according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Santulli was pledging at the fraternity, commonly referred to in the lawsuit as ‘FIJI,’ in October when he was found unresponsive due to alcohol poisoning. Authorities said his blood alcohol content was 0.486, six times the legal limit. Delanty was Santulli’s “pledge father.”

Another member of the fraternity, Alec Wetzler, was charged earlier in June with misdemeanor counts of supplying alcohol to a minor and possession of alcohol by a minor.

Delanty, who had been released on a $50,000 bond had been previously ordered by Judge Kevin Crane to not commit any new offenses, tamper with any victim or witness in the case, nor have any contact with the alleged victim.

At Monday’s pre-trial conference, Delanty appeared via Zoom explaining that his attorney had been running late. Later, the Court learned that the defense attorney had requested a continuance due to a family emergency which the judge approved. 

The attorney for the victim’s civil cases, David Bianchi, who specializes in hazing litigation called the incident “the worst fraternity hazing injury ever in the United States.” Bianchi told Court TV that Santulli’s family had settled with 26 defendants on the civil side and that all of those cases have been resolved.

While many of the criminal cases have been resolved in plea deals, there are still a few ongoing, including that of the former president of the fraternity, Samuel Lane, who like Delanty, is also expected to face a jury trial next month on Dec. 19.