Nineteen people (including one entity) were charged with a number of crimes relating to the death of student Tim Piazza in February from injuries he sustained when he fell down the steps at the fraternity house.
The fraternity itself will be charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, 50 counts of hazing, 48 counts of furnishing alcohol to minors, 48 counts of unlawful acts related to liquor (coming from fall 2016, spring 2016, and spring 2017 rush).
Members of the fraternity, including President Brendan Young and Pledge Master Daniel Casey, will be charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, tampering with evidence, hazing, furnishing alcohol to minors, unlawful acts relative to liquor, disorderly conduct, and consumption of alcohol by a minor.
Other members received lesser charges, including the chapter’s risk manager and social chairs — similar charges, but without involuntary manslaughter. Beta Theta Pi’s Vice President, House Manager, and a few others will only be charged with tampering with evidence.
Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller called a press conference on Friday, May 5 at 10 a.m. to announce these charges as a result of a grand jury investigation into what happened at the Beta Theta Pi house on the night Piazza fell. Piazza’s parents also attended the press conference, standing alongside Parks Miller as she announced the charges.
Piazza fell down the fraternity house steps at bid acceptance night on February 2, when he was slated pledge the fraternity. “He was warned ahead of time that there was going to be drinking,” Parks Miller said. The fraternity made the brothers run from station to station and drink enormous amounts of alcohol.
Piazza’s blood alcohol was nearly .40 — a fatal amount — according to the investigation. He also suffering a collapsed lung, ruptured spleen, and nonrecoverable brain injury following the fall. Security videos show Piazza fell multiple times throughout the night and eventually fell down the stairs again and laid at the bottom for “a number of hours.”
Beta Theta Pi brothers did not call paramedics until the next morning — nearly 12 hours after Piazza’s initial fall. He was transported to Mt. Nittany Medical Center and later flown to Hershey Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead on February 4.
Parks Miller said brothers gathered around Piazza for nearly 40 minutes before calling paramedics in the morning, reportedly Googling things like “what to do with a head injury.” By the time Piazza arrived at the hospital, it was too late, Parks Miller said.
“This fraternity…had been doing these same pledging rituals for years,” Parks Miller said. “The grand jury discovered other hazing — paddling, eating all kinds of mushed food, all kinds of rituals that this fraternity engaged in over a number of years.”
She also said people had fallen during these hazing rituals before and brothers waited until morning to contact medical help.