Jail time suspended under several conditions for one of 11 charged in Adam Oakes’ death
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Andrew White, who pleaded guilty to unlawful hazing of a student and providing alcohol to a minor in connection to Adam Oakes’ hazing death, was sentenced Tuesday to 24 months in the City of Richmond’s Justice Center.
Under an agreement with the Commonwealth, the sentence was suspended with the following conditions:
- A period of probation
- Participate in the Restorative Justice program with Adam Oakes’ family
- Participate in anti-hazing education with the Love Like Adam Foundation.
- 100 hours of community service work
In December, Andrew White pleaded guilty to Class 1 Misdemeanors of unlawful hazing and providing alcohol for a minor.
The sentencing agreement comes one year after Adam Oakes’ died from alcohol poisoning following an unsanctioned “Big/Little Brother” event at an off-campus house on Feb. 26, 2021.
During Andrew White’s plea hearing in December, prosecutors described Andrew as Adam’s “Big Brother” in the Delta Chi Fraternity. During court proceedings in December, Adam was described as an underground pledge.
On Tuesday morning, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Alison Martin read family impact statements in court, including those from Adam’s parents, Eric and Linda Oakes.
“Adam had so much to live for,” read Martin from the family’s impact statement.
The family impact statements from Adam’s parents discussed the pain from the past year and the events of the night leading up to Adam’s death.
“He was my best friend. He was my rock. He was my man,” read another statement written by Eric Oakes.
The family’s impact statement also read, “Our goal is to help save the next kid’s life.”
After these statements were read, Andrew White read his letter to the Oakes’ family, saying, “I’m deeply sorry. I think about him every day.”
Andrew White said he was a strong advocate for Adam to join Delta Chi saying, “My goal that night was to lift his spirits.”
He also described the feelings he had after learning about Adam’s death, saying, “I felt like the world around me was on fire.”
Towards the end of his statement, White said, " I’ll forever regret buying Adam that drink.”
Outside the courtroom, Andrew White declined to comment on camera.
Courtney White, Adam Oakes’ cousin, reacted to the outcome of the sentencing agreement outside the courtroom.
“The emotional rollercoaster we have been on since Adam’s death last February has been indescribable,” said Courtney White. “This plea deal isn’t just for us to get answers; it’s a chance for Andrew to support the systematic changes that we are trying to make in Virginia. He will support our efforts to combat hazing in our state and in our country.”
Courtney White and Eric Oakes, Adam Oakes’ father, also described their efforts for change in Virginia and across the country for anti-hazing legislation and education.
On Monday afternoon, Virginia legislators passed Adam’s Law through the House and Senate.
“We’re trying to save lives, and we want to change the law and help the next family,” said Eric Oakes.
Another bill introduced in General Assembly aims to toughen the hazing criminal penalty from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 5 felony if it leads to bodily injury or death.
This bill is expected to go to conference this week so lawmakers can come to a final agreement on the bill.
The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney said there are still pending charges against ten other active fraternity members.
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