Beltrami County prosecutors have charged five men in connection with the September death of a 19-year-old who fell from the seventh floor of a Bemidji State University dormitory.
The Beltrami County Attorney’s Office announced Friday that each of the men have been charged with gross misdemeanors for providing alcohol to minors. The charges from an investigation into the death of Isaac Jon Morris, of Cokato, Minn.
Morris was found lying on the ground bleeding in the early morning hours of Sept. 30 after falling from a window of Tamarack Hall. He died of significant internal head trauma, the Ramsey County Medical Examiner ruled.
Police detectives classified Morris’ death as an accident.
Charged with two gross misdemeanor counts for furnishing alcohol to individuals under 21 were Bryce Peter Mattson, Jack William Mathison, Aaron Elliot Trebelhorn, Zachary Charles Morse and Jordan Trowbridge Swan.
According to the charges, Morris, who was not a Bemidji State student, had attended a large house party on the 2500 block of Calihan Avenue NE. and had been drinking in the hours before the fall. Mattson, Mathison and Trebelhorn pooled funds to buy kegs and sold cups to attendees. Morse and Swan also bought kegs and hosted the party at a residence.
Several witnesses told investigators that they had seen Morris at the party and that he had been drinking.
A friend told investigators that he and Morris had been at the party for about 90 minutes and paid $5 for cup.
If convicted, each charge carries a penalty of up to a year in prison and a $3,000 fine.
It was four years ago that another underage drinking case led to a fatality at the college campus located about 220 miles north of the Twin Cities.
A Bemidji State nursing student froze to death in 2014 after she left a party alone and stumbled into a creek. The student, Sandra Lommen, 20, continued walking home but eventually succumbed to the cold and was later found unconscious and hypothermic. She was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Investigators eventually decided there was insufficient evidence to file charges that would stand up in court.
Twin Cities criminal trial attorney Eric J. Olson said he’s seen underage drinking cases get stricter treatment on college campuses than they would in other settings. It’s the example that’s being set, he said.
“I’m not surprised” that criminal charges would be filed in Morris’ death, Olson said Monday.