Students, fraternity face charges in Penn State hazing death

Posted May 09, 2017

According to the Penn State president, the Beta Theta Pi fraternity has been banned from ever returning to the university.

The attorney for the family of Penn State fraternity pledge Timothy Piazza, who died after falling down stairs during a pledge ceremony at the frat house, called the actions of the fraternity brothers who didn't call for help the "worst possible debauchery and depravity that you could possibly have anywhere, let alone a college campus".

Eight members of the fraternity face allegations that include involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault, with some charged with 200 separate counts.

An attorney for the chapter didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

He died February 4 as a result of a traumatic brain injury. The pledges were pressured to chug vodka, shotgun beers and drink wine.

Prosecutors say Piazza fell down a long set of steps on February 2, and fell several other times, injuring his head. He told the grand jury that Piazza was thrashing and making "weird movements" while other fraternity members were holding him down.

Miller said doctors estimate Piazza had a blood-alcohol content of almost 0.40 percent; the legal limit for drivers, for comparison, is 0.08 percent.

The investigation found some fraternity members tried to hide what happened. Members allegedly deleted GroupMe, Facebook and text messages, ordered pledges to get rid of evidence of alcohol and told pledges to keep quiet about what had happened. Piazza's father, Jim Piazza, said at a press conference Friday morning, "This didn't have to happen". "It was kind of like, 'shut up.' I got thrown against the wall".

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It comes after 18 of his fellow frat brothers were charged Friday in connection with the 19-year-old student's death.

"The details alleged in these finding are heart-wrenching and incomprehensible", Barron has said, adding the details outlined in the grand jury report are "sickening and hard to understand".

Barron says it's "numbing" to see that a unsafe atmosphere could occur at a fraternity that prided itself on commitment to each other and the community. The footage, they say, contradicted witness testimony. At times, people in the house find him on the floor, but do not call for help, according to the investigation.

He was subsequently found at the bottom of the steps after apparently falling face-first.

After he was found the next morning, brothers spent about 40 more minutes trying to revive him, including efforts to try to dress him, before McCann finally called 911.

"This was a preventable tragedy", Davis said. When the same brother insisted again that Piazza required help, he was told others were biology and kinesiology majors so his opinion wasn't as valuable as theirs, the jury said. "He could have a concussion.'" He said his pleas continued to be disregarded.

Correction: May 8, 2017 12:00 am - A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Timothy Piazza hit his head on a metal railing at 4 a.m. "Timothy was lying on his back and his arms clenched tight at his sides and his hands in the air", jurors wrote in the Bellefonte Courthouse in Pennsylvania after preliminary hearings.

"I was like, 'Tim needs help right now, we should call 911 right now, '" Davis said.