Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller released a statement to the media Thursday afternoon detailing the launch of her personal investigation of defense attorneys she believed violated secrecy laws related to the grand jury investigating Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
Parks Miller will investigate these potential violations in response to defense attorneys who anonymously spoke to The Philadelphia Inquirer earlier this week and one of the same attorneys who she says described police evidence in an interview on local television the next day.
“I am disappointed that criminal defense lawyers seek to shape the public dialogue of an investigation to influence prospective jurors in the event arrests are made,” Parks Miller said. “However, there are very specific ethical rules and secrecy statutes which such lawyers must be mindful of. I caution anyone involved in any of our investigations that our office will investigate and prosecute persons who violate grand jury secrecy provisions.”
“Grand Jury matters are secret for a reason,” she continued, “not the least of which is to protect innocent persons from being unfairly tarred and feathered on the court of public opinion, simply because they chose to cooperate in an investigatory matter. In the event that such matters occur in a grand jury proceeding, we will be asking the supervising judge to address them as they arise.”
Student Timothy Piazza passed away February 4 at Hershey Medical Center as a result of traumatic injuries sustained when he fell down the basement steps at Beta Theta Pi fraternity on February 2. Piazza was accepting a membership bid at the fraternity’s bid acceptance ceremonies that night. Members of the fraternity did not contact paramedics until nearly 12 hours after they say Piazza fell while intoxicated.
The District Attorney’s office previously said results of the investigation would be released by mid-April, but so far she has not provided a specific release date or any additional information on the proceedings of the grand jury or other aspects of the investigation.