Published: Mon, May 15, 2017
National | By Rosalie Gross

More to Face Arraignment in Penn State Fraternity House Death

More to Face Arraignment in Penn State Fraternity House Death

The victim, 19-year-old sophomore Timothy Piazza, died during "pledge night" on February 4, after being subjected to a series of hazing rituals by members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, as reported by The New York Times.

In all, the fraternity and 18 of its members face charges related to Piazza's death. Before court, Action News spoke with Centre County Distrtict Attorney Stacy Parks Miller.

McCann, along with 17 others, is now one of the brothers facing charges in the case. The others face charges ranging from furnishing alcohol to minors to evidence tampering.

A man who answered the phone at Kenyon's house declined comment.

The grand jury report says Piazza suffered a series of falls during and after a pledge acceptance ceremony and was forced to run a "gauntlet" of drinking stations. The next morning, he fell down the stairs again and was unconscious when help was finally summoned.

Piazza died February 4, two days after he fell, having suffered a nonrecoverable brain injury, ruptured spleen and collapsed lung.

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Ryan McCann called almost 12 hours after Piazza's first fall, and did not mention the fall to the operator - only that alcohol was involved. "The early findings of that investigation indicated that the behavior of several undergraduate members was in direct contradiction of the International Fraternity's expectations and risk management policies, as well as the International Fraternity's reputation and commitment to character development", the statement said. A text message recovered by police reportedly urged pledges to get rid of evidence of alcohol.

Piazza's death led to a number of changes on campus, including a ban on all social activities involving alcohol for the rest of the semester, monitoring at social events to prevent underage and excessive drinking, no hard liquor at events that allow for alcohol, and probation and immediate revocation of a Greek-letter chapter's status if rules are violated.

Barron called Piazza's death and the current situation, "heart wrenching and incomprehensible".

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

Four brothers allegedly carried him upstairs after the fall and placed him on a couch that night, but no one called 911 until the next morning. According to a grand jury indictment, at least one person at the party insisted the teen needed medical attention. Piazza appeared to become inebriated and fell face-first down a flight of basement steps before midnight. While some poured water on his face, others slapped him.

Members of the fraternity resisted efforts to call for help and may have made his injuries worse, according to police and prosecutors. "I think it's going to be surprising to people who knew what, when". He also fell onto a stone floor before being found in the basement hours later, it said. "Timothy was lying on his back and his arms clenched tight at his sides and his hands in the air", jurors wrote in the Bellefonte Courthouse in Pennsylvania after preliminary hearings. Ten members were arraigned Friday, and the other eight are scheduled for arraignment Tuesday. The remaining eight defendants are set to be arraigned this afternoon, the district attorney's office said.

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