Prosecutors Say Penn State Frat Brothers Deleted Evidence In Pledge Death, Bring Slew Of New Charges

BELLEFONTE, PA (CBSNewYork) — A Pennsylvania prosecutor announced additional charges in the death of a Penn State University student, on Monday.

The charges stem from allegations by State College Police that video footage from the night of Tim Piazza’s death, was deleted before cops took possession of recording equipment.

According to Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller, a DVR surveillance box sent to the FBI was found to contain a video that, “clearly depicts a continuation of the hazing activity previously captured upstairs.”

In a statement released Monday, Miller said video shows fraternity brothers ordering pledges to drink wine, beer, and vodka.

Authorities say Piazza, who died while pledging the Beta Theta Pi fraternity on February 2, 2017, was given at least 18 drinks inside of 90 minutes.

Miller told reporters that the video proves what they already knew.

“It was obvious what occurred,” she said, “I don’t think we should have needed it, I think it’s obvious what happened without having the video.”

According to the statement, fraternity brothers told police that, “the basement cameras had been inoperable” during the Bid Acceptance Night event.

The new evidence has led to charges against Joshua Kurczewski, Ryan Burke, Jonathan Kanzler, Bohan Song, Aiden O’Brien, Joseph Ems, Brian Gelb, Patrick Jackson, Reggie Goeke, Mike Fernandez, Donald Prior, and Braxton Brecker.

The fraternity brothers face charges for hazing, assault, underage alcohol consumption, reckless endangerment, evidence tampering, hindering apprehension, obstruction of justice, and manslaughter.

“These charges range from manslaughter to hazing, and also charges for the actual affirmative, deliberate deletion of that video, which obviously pertained to capturing criminal conduct,” Miller said.

 

According to the DA, the sophomore engineering student from New Jersey had completed a series of drinking stations in the frat house called the gauntlet.

He fell down the basement steps and was seen on video stumbling around as fraternity brothers poured liquid on him and tried to balance him upright with a backpack.

He was found unconscious in the basement the next day, but it was another 40 minutes after that before an ambulance was called.

Piazza had a fractured skull, shattered spleen, and other injuries. His blood alcohol was estimated at several times the legal driving limit.

“There’s no other conclusion other than, drinks were furnished to an underage guy and there was hazing happening, that was our theory, that got him to that level,” Miller said.

She also said that Piazza never once obtained his own alcohol.

Five brothers who were previously charged in the case will also face additional charges.

Luke Visser, Gary Dibilio, Nick Kubera, Michael Bonatucci, and Parker Yochim were all charged with additional alcohol related offenses.

After the charges were announced, an emotional Jim Piazza directed his anger at the accused.

“The visions of him lying in a hospital bed battered and bruised and on life-support looking as if he got hit by a tractor trailer make no sense,” he said, “They claimed, ‘we don’t know what happened in the basement.’ Guess what guys? Now we know.”

A judge had previously dismissed assault and manslaughter charges against the fraternity brothers and ordered them to stand trial on lesser charges.

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