More Penn State Fraternity Members Face Arraignment In Student’s Death

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (CBSNewYork/AP) — More of the 18 Penn State fraternity brothers charged in connection with a student’s death are expected to face a judge on Monday.

Eight of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers and the chapter were charged Friday with involuntary manslaughter in the death of 19-year-old Timothy Piazza.

Other charges include aggravated and simple assault, evidence tampering, alcohol-related violations and hazing.

Ten of the defendants were arraigned Friday and were released on bail.

Prosecutors said Piazza, a sophomore engineering student at Penn State from Lebanon, New Jersey, was a pledge at the fraternity when he went to party at the frat house on campus in February.

The grand jury, aided by security camera footage, said the fraternity was heavily stocked with booze for the Feb. 2 ceremony. Prosecutors said the pledges were pressured to chug vodka, shotgun beers and drink wine.

“It was called a ‘gauntlet’ and they made the pledges, soon to be brothers, run from station to station and drink enormous amounts of alcohol in different phases,” said District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller.

Piazza tumbled down a flight of stairs that night and fell several other times, injuring his head, Miller said. The next morning, he fell down the stairs again and was unconscious when help was finally summoned.

“These brothers gathered around Timothy where some of them described that he looked dead and they waited over 40 minutes before they called for help while some of them Googled things like, ‘What to do with a head injury?'” Miller said.

He died Feb. 4 as a result of a traumatic brain injury.

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

The investigation found some frat members tried to conceal what happened. It found that a text message recovered by police urged pledges to get rid of evidence of alcohol and that conversations discussing deleting conversations from a messaging app were discovered.

Miller also said video footage turned over to investigators provided evidence of what occurred and contradicted stories some witnesses had told.

Piazza’s father, Jim Piazza, blamed a “flagrant disregard” for the law and said the death “didn’t have to happen.”

“This is the result of a feeling of entitlement, flagrant disobedience of the law and disregard for moral values that was then exacerbated by egregious acts of self-preservation,” he said. “This did not have to happen. No parent should have to deal with this.”

Penn State permanently banned Beta Theta Pi on March 30, accusing it of a “persistent pattern” of excessive drinking, drug use and hazing.

University President Eric Barron called the report heart-wrenching, sickening and incomprehensible.

“It is numbing how an atmosphere that endangers the well-being and safety of another person could occur within an organization that prided itself on commitment to each other and to its community,” Barron said.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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