Judge Prepares CU Student Death Verdict

By Alice Maggiore

May 25, 2012 Updated May 25, 2012 at 6:33 PM EDT

Ithaca, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The fate of three men charged in connection with the alcohol-related death of a Cornell University student is now in the hands of a judge.

The question is whether alcohol poisoning or hazing is to blame for the death of George Desdunes, 19.

The Brooklyn man was found unconscious on a couch at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity home in February, 2011.

He was later pronounced dead.

His blood-alcohol level was 0.35%.

Prosecutors argue Desdunes and another pledge were told to drink vodka when they gave wrong answers to questions about the fraternity's history.

Pledge brothers Max Haskin, Ben Mann and Edward Williams were on trial this week, charged with hazing and unlawfully dealing with a child.

The prosecution says they should have called for help before it was too late, but the defense says the death was Desdunes' fault.

Defense attorneys argue he voluntarily participated in the evening's events, knowing he had pneumonia and after drinking a lot of alcohol earlier that night.

Desdunes' mother has filed a multimillion-dollar wrongful-death lawsuit against Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which is no longer recognized at Cornell.

Tompkins County Court says the judge's decision is not expected soon, but could come within a couple of weeks.