Jennifer Strange Trial Coverage: The Final Witness

October 9, 2009

"Hold You Wee to Win a Nintendo Wii" contestant Aram Dermenjian took the stand Tuesday as the final witness for Entercom's defense team. 

He testified that from listening to KDND, he understood that the rules were contestants would be drinking a cup of water every fifteen minutes, and the last person that went to the bathroom would win.  He also said those rules were given to him by the female at the station who told him when to arrive, and that she said the last person to use the bathroom or vomit would win.

He told Entercom attorney Don Carlson that he was a UC Davis student at the time of the contest, and that he did know about the Chico water drinking death.  He said that he had heard the term water intoxication before the 2007 contest, but he thought this contest was different from the Chico hazing incident because the contest was voluntary, while the Matthew Carrington in Chico had been forced to drink large amounts of water.

Carlson:  Did you understand you could leave at any time?  Dermenjian: Yes.  Carlson:  Did you think you'd know what your limits were?  Dermenjian: I was a dancer, and had a decent understanding of what I could do.  Carlson:  Did you read the release form?  Dermenjian: I glanced it over.  Carlson:  Did you decide it was okay to sign?  Dermenjian: Yes.

Dermenjian said the contestants had discussed going from the eight ounce bottle of water to the larger 16.9 ounce bottles to speed up the contest.  Carlson asked whether the radio was playing during the contest, and Dermenjian said it was, but he only remembered music playing, not callers.  He said there was no discussion of the Chico incident by contestants during the contest.  Dermenjian was the first to leave the contest, as the first contestant to leave was given a chance to be interviewed on the radio.

Strange family Attorney Roger Dreyer established that Dermenjian was the president of his fraternity at UC Davis, and that he had heard of the Chico incident in a fraternity newsletter.  Dermenjian said he knew that Carrington had died of acute water intoxication.  Dreyer also established that Dermenjian had studied AP Chemistry in high school, and understood how sodium electrolite imbalance in the body worked.

Dreyer asked whether anyone at the radio station had given him information as to the hazards and dangers of the contest; Dermenjian said he didn't need it.  Dreyer asked about his signing the release form, he said it looked like a standard form.  Dreyer: You didn't think that radio station would ever put you into a contest that they knew could kill you?  Dermenjian: I didn't think they'd done research.

Dermenjian said that when he was told they would be drinking a cup of water every ten minutes instead of every fifteen minutes, he didn't know what six cups an hour would do, as he was used to four cups.  He left the contest before they switched to the larger bottles.

Dreyer:  You knew about Chico, about Chemistry, your experience as a dancer. Based on your knowledge, you kept that information in mind?  Dermenjian:  Yes.  Dreyer:  Did anyone from the radio station say we want to let you all know about water poisoning or dangers?  Dermenjian:  No.

He said no one from the radio station said they'd received a phone call from a pediatric nurse giving them notice of a potential hazard, and that he did not recall any contestants talking about the Chico State death.  He was in the contest for less than an hour, but stayed to himself, and did not tell any of the other contestants about his knowledge of Chico or of water poisoning. 

When he left the station, Dermenjian listened to the broadcast and heard the "Eva Brooks" call, which had warned the Morning Rave staff that people could die from water intoxication.  Dreyer:  When you heard that, was it consistent with your knowledge?  Dermenjian:  Yes . Did you call the radio station to let them know what you knew?  Dermenjian: No.  Dreyer:  You weren't running the contest, were you?  Dermenjian:  No.

On redirect, Carlson asked why he didn't tell anyone about Chico;  he said that most of the contestants seemed to be friends, and so he just sat in the corner by himself.  Carlson:  Did you assume others would know their own limits and know when to stop drinking?  Dermejian:  Yes.

Dreyer again:  You don't know what anyone else knew?  Dermejian:  True.  Dreyer:  You've met people who don't know the dangers of sodium imbalance?  Dermejian:  True.

This was the final witness in the case.  Closing arguments will begin 9:00 AM Tuesday, October 13.

To see the Broadcast Blues story about Jennifer Strange, including audio from the contest, please go to .

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