Preliminary Hearing In Penn State Frat Pledge Death Resumes

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The second day of a preliminary hearing is underway in the case of a Penn State fraternity and 18 members who face charges in connection with the February death of a pledge after a night of drinking.

The hearing in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, resumed Monday, following a 10-hour proceeding last month, when a detective was the lone witness. It’s expected to last at least until Tuesday.

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In May, Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said a grand jury investigation found that friends of 19-year-old Timothy Piazza failed to get him help before his death in February.

Prosecutors said Piazza, a sophomore engineering student at Penn State from Lebanon, New Jersey, was a pledge at the now-shuttered Beta Theta Pi fraternity when he went to party at the frat house on campus.

The grand jury 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.

Piazza fell down the steps after allegedly going through a hazing ritual called a “gauntlet,” in which fraternity pledges run from station to station drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short amount of time, according to prosecutors.

Piazza tumbled down the stairs that night and fell several other times, injuring his head, according to prosecutors. The next morning, authorities said he fell down the stairs again and was unconscious when help was finally summoned.

The grand jury report says security camera footage shows fraternity members carrying Piazza’s limp body upstairs, smacking him in the face and pouring liquid on him as he went in and out of consciousness for hours.

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

Some of the members of the fraternity are accused of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault, while others face less serious allegations. Two previously waived the preliminary hearing.

A judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to send the case to county court for trial.

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

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